While the Hermit Tarot card does ring true when it comes to me, in this instance I mean the behaviour/archetype I slip into when my husband is away.
And yes, he is away once again. This time for quite a bit longer than the other times.
We’ll be fine, we’re just a little out of practice for these longer runs as it’s been almost 3 years since his last major deployment or mission.
But I know that in a few days I will slip into my Hermit skin and silence will settle. It’s a comfortable silence, and I am not someone who needs people, so it’s a welcome silence as well.
I really don’t mind being alone – I’m never lonely, as I have my beautiful dogs with me – and I even like my own company.
It’s time for me to work to make some money, do some odd jobs and potter around our little cottage and the yard – try and get the grass to grow – and even do some chores for my mother-in-law at the main house while she’s away as well. I also want to get into an exercise regime to get back into shape like I was in Germany. I know I’m not walking nearly as much with the dogs as I was, even in Georgia, so I know that’s why I’ve gained weight (it’s not a lot, but it’s way more than I am happy with) but there are other ways for me to get fit and the dogs don’t have to go with me every time I go out! I can run on my own – even if it’s early morning or late evening when it’s bearable outside.
We’re heading into New Mexico’s infamous summer, where roads melt and cars bake and everything dies in the scorching sun. Luckily, our little cottage is generally pretty cool, and we have a little air conditioner that seems to be handling the heat well so far. Early mornings are quite lovely here in the desert, and the dogs have the choice to be inside or outside and when it starts really getting hot around 11, they tend to prefer to be inside. They go back out in the evening when the temperature drops to a reasonable level for us all, and the air conditioner takes a break while the fans blow the cool air in from outside. Azzie likes to be outside, even when it’s very hot, so I have to watch her a bit. She is not used to this weather and doesn’t realise she’s cooking until I bring her inside and she feels how cool it is and she falls asleep in the kitchen on the cool tile or on her bed in the main room with the air conditioner.
She’s an odd duck, that one, but she’s mommy’s girl and she’s already shown me that she’s there for me – the moment my husband left I had a wave of heartache and sadness and I couldn’t fight the tears. It was just a moment and just a sob, and then I was done, but Azzie came barreling across the yard and shoved her head into my arms and wriggled and huffed until I stopped. Gina was too busy waiting at the gate and Odin was too busy barking at cats in the other yard.
PS: I updated The Vees Big Adventure page as well.
More big decisions being made and we’re trying to think big picture, rather than short-term living.
We loved Oregon – LOVED it – and while the rain got a bit much for the husband, I actually enjoyed it. Dogs loved the cooler weather; no snakes or nasty spiders; no humidity unless it was actually going to rain; a mist that was actually misty and cool, and just a little bit of SNOW; lots of places to walk; a huge dog park – didn’t make any new friends, per say, but they had fun – and having daddy home a lot more.
We loved Oregon but it was also getting a little expensive to stay at the RV place we liked so much – truly a gorgeous place with all the amenities and things we needed that were included in the monthly price. However, because of the season change to spring/summer, they no longer offered an affordable monthly rate so we switched over to a weekly one.
I had a job: A full-time, hands-on, hard-work kind of gig. I worked at a food repacking plant as a QA. It was busy work that kept me occupied for the 9 hours I was there every day – on my feet, exhausted, but also focused because you HAD to be to keep up. I was quite liked by my immediate supervisor and bosses, and I even made a few acquaintances. Of course, there were people who didn’t like me so much because I picked up the work very quickly and I was put into actual production work very quickly, and this pissed off some people, apparently. But that was fine – I wasn’t there to make friends, I was there to make money to support us. I was still looking at online work so we could head off on our adventures again.
The factory work was hard, tiring, and because of all the income taxes and union dues (which I wasn’t allowed to be part of until I hit 1600 hours of work… yeah… a YEAR until I was a member, but I had to pay the weekly dues which were about a third of my pay!) it became clear that while it was a relatively good amount of weekly pay, it felt a bit like I was working bloody hard for not too much gain every week. So I continued my search for online work.
While this was happening, my husband was doing his NG duty every month and finishing the qualification exams before heading to his training.
When he got a date for his training, and I got some online work (hopefully, long term) I quit the factory and we packed up (grabbing a few things from our storage) and headed off in Irma, with Ghost behind us, and we headed back down through Oregon, California, Arizona and then finally, back to New Mexico.
We’ve been here a few days now and the dogs are LOVING the yard again. The water is upsetting Gina’s tummy a tiny bit, but nothing major. The thorns are, as before, quite bad but we are solving that by buying some good Ruffwear boots for Odin and the girls. We’re going to see how much getting them rattlesnake vaccinations will cost, just in case.
We’re talking about staying, but it’s a decision we’ve got a few months to decide as April is the husband’s training month. After that, we head to Arizona for an experience in Overlanding that my husband is volunteering at; and after that, we’re heading back to Oregon in June, and we’ll make our final decisions after that. There are lots of variables and each one affects us in different ways, and in doing so, affects our final destination.
For now, the dogs are happy, we are settled in for a bit – so I can get some work done – and we can sort Irma out and the Jeep too. Azzie is doing very well now, thanks to her Posh Dog Knee Brace and she has actually been going on walks and playing without the brace for the last 2 weeks or so. We’re trying to rebuild the muscle on her left leg as it did diminish a bit – but not nearly as much as it would have atrophied if she’d had the surgery and been completely unable to walk. I can only sing the praises of the PDKB and I will continue to spread the word as much as I can.
The Vees Big Adventure continues, just not in the direction we thought.
On an aside: Amazon decided we could no longer keep our affiliate status as we’d not sold enough in 120 days to be “viable” so our link is no longer active.
We said Happy 9th Birthday to our Gina at the end of February, and Happy “5th or 6th” Birthday to Little Dude, Odin. Azzie turns 6 in mid-April and we will celebrate then too with Calichi Poochie Cones 🙂
I’m finally settled in one place long enough to get an update in, with chores and errands and repairs done.
I’ll catch you up on the day we left Georgia, and the travel and driving and the places we’ve seen since then. I decided to break it up into sections as one post on the whole thing was not only making me feel very overwhelmed, I think it would have been too much writing in one go.
An unseasonably warm and humid October in Georgia had us parking Irma (as named after the Hurricane of epic proportions that we went to fetch her during, and the subsequent heartache and financial craziness she had us going through after that) outside our home on post during the day, and taking her back to the temporary storage at night. The first couple of days we ripped out, tore down, extracted, unscrewed, unbolted, removed and replaced a whole BUNCH of things from Irma’s interior and exterior.
We took stock of what remained, what we could upgrade, what we could live without and what we definitely needed to get.
The extra swivel chair by the door got removed; to be replaced with Odin and Gina’s favourite round, soft bed – Azzie sleeps just about anywhere, and we felt Odin would probably sleep on our bed most of the time anyway, but he does love that bed. (It has seen a lot of use since we started travelling, so we know it was a good decision to keep it)
The old microwave (“It totally works!” said the RV dealership… sure it does… but the door doesn’t open… so what’s the point, you conniving arsehats?) was removed, along with the various venting and stabilising bits. We would look for a replacement microwave at some point but could live without it at that point.
The built-in coffee maker was removed. RV dealer swore it worked, but by that stage, we believed nothing they had promised, and we didn’t need it anyway as the husband is a coffee purist and doesn’t drink “filter” coffee.
We also removed the hideous, frilly curtains and sidings, and the dangerous (for clumsy people such as myself) hooks and metal tie-backs. I created simple, black-out curtains from our old curtains from Germany, made ribbon tie-ups and velcro fastenings for easy cleaning and removal. It looked quite nice and pretty much matched the rest of the interior (pale blues, beige, and pinks – sounds worse than it is) and matched our aesthetic, so we were happy with them. Plus, they didn’t cost much to make; just some velcro, some hemming tape, and some ribbon. I only had time to replace the bedroom curtains at that stage – the long side windows came next, in New Mexico.
We went through all our clothes, our gear, the dogs’ gear, our kitchen, and bathroom stuff, and downsized dramatically. The rest got taken away by the military movers and put into storage for 3 months until we could get a storage place at our “end point’ of Oregon; donated what wasn’t going into storage. We tried to sell some larger items (the dining room table, mountain bike, etc) but I was a bit late putting up the adverts, unfortunately, so those items got packed up with the storage stuff.
We only got Irma back from the RV repair place in Augusta, in mid-October; because everything that the RV dealership said was working, wasn’t; plus there were so many OTHER issues that we had to get it all fixed to make her livable and up for long distance travel with us.
While Irma was being restored and repaired (which cost a hell of a lot of money) we got a small stash of “South African goodies” from the South African Store in Atlanta; we had a few final hikes in the forests as best we could with Azzie recovering from her ACL tear and getting used to her brace; we spent a lovely weekend early morning at a beautiful pond with our friend and her dogs. We had coffee with friends and a small farewell dinner with only a select chosen few of people that TJ knew from work. The few friends that I had made had left Georgia already, so it was just a gathering for him, really.
We basically spent the last few weeks of being in Georgia, trying to enjoy Georgia. It was warm, humid, and there were still loads of bugs and mozzies – very odd for that time of year – but we made the best of it.
The items we ordered from Amazon, to make our travels in the RV easier, started arriving so we had the fun of unpacking those and waiting for Irma to arrive to pack those away. We also tried out a few meals in the Instant Pot and we LOVED it! So quick and easy and the meat was tender and falling apart, no matter the type or whether it had been frozen or not.
Our housing final inspection day arrived and we were all sorted – house was spotless and Irma was packed in a flat parking lot just down the road so we could start the fridge up (we got so many warnings about operating the fridge on a flat surface that we took it very seriously) and get it cold enough to put our few items from the fridge and freezer in it. The fridge was one of the things fixed by the Augusta RV place, so we at least knew THAT worked.
The generator ran well, kept the AC nice and cool.
The dogs and I walked from the house to the RV; a final walk on the post and in Georgia.
It was bittersweet – I will miss the forests and trails and lakes and ponds, but I won’t miss the bugs and mozzies and humidity.
I let the dogs sniff and piddle wherever they wanted on the way to Irma and we climbed in and waited for husband to get done with the inspector at the house.
Around 13:30 he came back with the Jeep and we had a small, simple lunch and then we hitched up the Jeep for the first time (it was a learning experience, but we’d watched many videos so we had a good idea what to do) checked each other’s work and then got On The Road for real.
Odin was terrified of the movement and the generator noise, but he found his “safe place” in the passenger side footwell with me. He slept there for that first trip and has done so for all trips after that one.
The girls got up onto the folded down beds – we put both of them down for extra space and Gina liked the couch and Azzie liked the dinette bed. So we were all comfy and happy.
We waved a sad goodbye to Fort Gordon.
As Augusta, and Georgia, slowly slipped by, we remembered our time there; but we also looked ahead with nervous anticipation to the next chapter in our journey!
The Vees Big Adventure began on October 20th, 2017!
Things are getting “real” here in the Vee household!
Our RV is in the “queue” for the full check out “check-out”; we pick up our gorgeous old Jeep in a couple of weeks time; we’ve sold Erika. We were heartbroken; both of us near tears, but it had to be done. We will miss this little firecracker of a car. She was a pleasure to drive, and so fun.
We’ve got a buyer for Daisy (also heartbreaking, but we know the people who are buying her and we know they will take good care of her like we did, so it’s not as bad as saying goodbye to the little Smart) who is letting us hold on to her until we go get our Jeep and get it into perfect running order (just a couple of things need doing – she’s otherwise running fine); husband is counting down the days until his ETS leave begins… and then we’re going to go fetch our Winnie (not sure what we’re going to name her yet; we have to get to know her first) and start sifting through our belongings to decide what comes with, what gets stored and what gets sold or donated. So close now we can taste it! I will post photos of the Jeep and the RV as we get them, of course.
Azzie’s brace was adjusted and it came back today (This company is SUPER fast with shipping and help! Send me a message if you want to know more, but I’ll be writing a post on the whole process very soon, with photos and maybe a video or two as well) and I’m going to put it back on Azzie for her evening walk… *paws crossed* With all the new adjustments, it should be perfect this time and we can get stuck into her recovery! My bionic dog will be on the mend, finally!
We’re making lists (and checking them WAY more than twice!) and researching solar; gathering the goods and bits and bobs that will make our RV life easier and more comfortable.
I’m researching places to boondock, and places to stay with hookups; we’re deciding on what state we will now be “residents” of; researching all the documents required to register vehicles, RVs, and us in this new state; finding a storage space in Oregon; sorting out prescriptions for the dogs, and check-ups before we head out on the road. It’s busy, busy, busy, but oh so exciting!
I’m trying to sort out work that I can do online, on the road, with the reasonably limited (but not as limited as it was a few years back – we’ve really picked a good time to be setting off, as there are many more options available and information at hand for full-time RVers) internet access that we will have.
I have a few things lined up, but who knows what will pan out. If we can get our YouTube channel up and running and out there in the world, we can perhaps earn a little something extra that way – but that takes time, of course. We’re also going to be joining the Amazon Affiliates program, and starting a Patreon account – so if anyone wants to chip in a dollar or two, we’d be most appreciative!
What have we been up to the last couple of months? We’ve said goodbye to some long-time friends, like little Kink. We’ve caught up with an old friend, Max, and Ellie and Shane. We’ve made a new friend or two as well – little Georgie! Odin gets very excited when he sees her at the dog park – his first girlfriend. We’ve also gotten to know Alistaire and Tater a little better, with a lovely forest walk and a chill session on a posh hotel’s balcony.
We’ve had some early morning dog park sessions, before it got too hot (thanks, Georgia), and we’ve watched an eclipse!
We’ve gone shooting and I’ve done well – better than I was expecting with such a long break between range days.
We’ve had good days and bad days, but through it all we’ve hung on to this new adventure ahead of us.
Over the last couple of days, I wrote my final exams for my medical course… it is finally at an end. It was a long, difficult, brain intensive course and I thoroughly enjoyed MOST of it. It had a few moments of boredom (if I had to type out another report about someone’s diarrhea….) and a few moments where I had no idea what I was doing… but the ending was clear, and I studied hard, and I now await the grading process completion.
I am trying not to think about it, trying not to obsess and fret about it – there is nothing I can do to change things now – and I am trying to enjoy the new (or back to the) freedom of my days! Only been one day, but man oh man I’ve accomplished a lot! All these little things I couldn’t get done because I had no time during the day to do anything but coursework and module tests and listen to reports and edit, edit, edit.
I’m not going to complain about it though – it was an experience and another part of the story of my life. I learned loads, and I have brand new shiny skills that I am quite keen to use.
I just hope the exams went as well as I FEEL they did! Hah!
Another ending that has occurred is that my stint as a Chloe&Isabel merchandiser has come to an end. Unfortunately, due to lack of sales for over 6 months, the company “lets you go” as a merchandiser. I tried my best, but I am not a networker and my efforts at selling online (Despite my best efforts and more money spent) did not pan out as well as I had hoped. I got support from only a small number of people, and I am grateful to them for it. Perhaps, when I am more stuck in to my work as a transcriptionist/editor, I can spend the money on marketing and give it another shot. Right now though, it’s just one more thing off my list. Sad, but it happens. Another thing I failed at. Yay, me.
The countdown is beginning for the “We’re getting out!” thing. It’s a bit surreal still. I am sure it will become more real when we start sorting out the movers and cleaning the house for the inspection, and clearing his unit and things like that. What will make it serious will be when we decide on when we will be going, where we will be living, and what we will be doing when we get there.
We have options, we have ideas. We just have to narrow it down and make a good decision or two. It’s scary. We both feel a bit overwhelmed, but we will get through it together as we always do. The dogs are with us too! They are our anchors and one of the main factors in our decision-making process!
As I knew I would, I am trying to remain detached from people. I don’t want to make more friends-with-dogs and then have to leave them again in a few months time. My heart is still sore from saying goodbye to our little foxy friend and his mom.
I have met a few cool people, but I am keeping it to “doggy friends” and that’s it.
We met a proper Greyhound a few mornings ago! He (his name was Third!) and Odin actually got on STRAIGHT AWAY! It was awesome! He has all these mannerisms that Odin has too – I thought they were “Stray dog” things, but apparently they are Greyhound things! His mom, Sara, and I had a nice chat about their funny characters. She said she could see the Greyhound in Odin, and then she saw him poop in a bush and she said, “Yup, that’s a Greyhound thing!” We laughed.
We have also met up with a lovely young Husky called Apollo a few times now, in the cooler evenings, and he and Odin (and even Azzie and Gina) get along really well, surprisingly!
Georgia is rolling out her summer carpets and it’s been hot, humid, rainy, hot, humid, cool, rainy, VERY hot, VERY humid, and back to just plain hot again.
We had a nice cool evening a few nights ago, and a cool morning followed – this was after a massive storm. Azzie did so well, despite the thunder and lightning. No tornado watches for that one, thankfully.
The Cape (back home) has been in the grips of a terrible drought – the worst they’ve had in 100 years, they say – and then over the last few days (Tuesday to Thursday) there was a HECTIC storm with high seas and LOTS of rain, and now they are expecting snow as well. Hoping that will fill the dams a bit, as they were so low they were in the single digit percentages.
Unfortunately, there’s also been a terrible wild fire in one of the most beautiful places: Knysna. Homes destroyed, huges swaths of forest decimated. Utterly terrible.
Someone probably set it, as there have been a rash of fires in the area and further down in Cape Town and surrounds as well.
I don’t understand the mentality of someone who could do that – they must be deranged.
Chaos. Endings. Beginnings.
The world turns on.
To paraphrase Jane Goodall, “Mother Nature can save herself, she just needs us to give her a chance.”
Living the military life can be both incredibly awesome, and totally miserable.
You get to live in places all over the world, on the military’s dime, and you get to experience things you’d never normally experience thanks to this.
The flip side of this travel collage is that you make friends, and you then get to say goodbye. Either you are leaving, or they are leaving, and if you happen to meet them at the end of your run in a place, or at the end of theirs, your time is even shorter. For most this is not an issue, but for people like me (and like the friends I have made – mostly foreigners like me, let me add – but not all) who find it hard to open up to people in the first place, having to speed up the “making friends” process can be horribly uncomfortable. Because of this, I don’t make friends. I actually try and make a point of not interacting too much with people because it takes me so long to trust and to find common ground.
However, I also try very hard to make “doggy friends” so that my dogs don’t feel alienated and “left out” when we move to a new place. Most of these “doggy friends” stay just that: people we meet at the dog park, or occasionally see out walking and join on a loop of the neighbourhood, but then one or two come along where our dogs just click, and we just click, and that’s it for my hermit mentality.
Now, through experience in this life, when it is time to say goodbye I tend to find myself feeling numb, aloof, and detached.
Saying goodbye to my friend Stephanie and her dog Frost, (and her husband Mike as well – though I was closer to Stephanie because of all the time we spent together daily with our dogs) today was difficult. I could feel the walls coming up already as she walked back to her car – “Don’t look back!” I said, because I knew if she did I would probably cry – and my heart turning in on itself, as per usual. I will be very sad, believe me, but after a few days I will move on with my daily life, back to my hermit ways. Back to weeks of silence, except for enlightening conversations with my dogs. I’ve done this enough times now to know that while it hurts right now, it will ease and it’s not like this time I’m going to another country – we can still be in touch!
But she and Frost were the reason we got going in the mornings: our walks were important. She also kept us on a routine in the evenings – we had to walk, or Frost would get up to mischief all night!
What will kick me in the soft bits later is when we go for our evening romp and stroll to and from the dog park, and the dogs wait impatiently at the fence for Frost and Stephanie to arrive… and they won’t be joining us ever again. That will hurt. My dogs are my children, and knowing they are confused and missing their buddy, that will hurt.
I know all the dogs knew there was something going on today (and for the last week, really, with the coming and going of Stephanie and Frost, and me as well) as Odin was very clingy with me, and Azzie wouldn’t leave Stephanie alone when she came to drop our vacuum cleaner off.
They will feel it when we go out, just the 4 of us, on our walks in the forest, or through the back streets of the other ‘hoods. And no more ‘hood walks, because we no longer have our body guards with us – Stephanie and Frost made us feel safer, even if it was just for the most part positive thinking, rather than practicality.
But, we got our day at the beach,
our walks in the sun, in the rain, in the wind, in the forest,
on the streets with our friends. These memories will stick with us always.
While my husband went to drop his mother off at the truck stop, and made sure she got off safely in her Peterbilt, I took the dogs for our first long morning walk without daddy. Long leads + squirrels + early morning cool == CRAZY ODIN. Thankfully Gina and Azzie behaved, because Odin drove me NUTS with is behaviour. My arms were so weak by the time we got home I could barely lift them! If we walk on the streets again, I am using the short leads – LONG WALK OR NOT! *shakes fist*
After that, when we were all home again, we had breakfast (leftovers from last night) and then got stuck in to some of the little things left to do in our home. We sorted the dog toys (donate/throw out) and all their leads and harnesses. Tomorrow I will sort out all their medications and tablets and wipes and that kind of thing. We also put up our photos and pictures and posters and metal posters. Rosie is back in her proper spot above my “office” area. We even got to hang BOTH the soccer frames up, because we have so much space! The dog photos are on the wall next to the back windows and we put the metal posters and license plates and things up the stairs and on the landing. It looks pretty cool! We tried putting up the Firefly (yes, Serenity) wall vinyl up, but it slowly peeled off, so we will do as the instructions say and wash it first and let it dry. We didn’t read the instructions the first time around… *hangs head*
Our photos that we took of our travels are up on the wall in the dining room area and there’s LOTS of space for more. We have a working printer now, so we can even print our own if we get the right paper. I did it back home – as long as you get the quality stuff and proper ink, it’s just the same as the shops do it.
Hmm. What else? Oh yes, I made my first sale! My mother in law fell in love with the Jardins du Midi perfume and also a few of the bracelets and earrings. She couldn’t afford to buy EVERYTHING she wanted, so she just got the perfume and a bracelet for herself (the Sunset on the Seine, leather wrap bracelet) and one for her sister this time. But she says that whenever she pops in, she will definitely buy something as she really likes the selection. She’s kind of a Chloe-Bel – she likes the classic stuff, but also some of the more trendy stuff. I was so thrilled to make my first sale. Just wish I could make some more before October is over – you get some pretty cool incentives if you do. I’ve just got to work out how to market it better – in a friendlier and more relaxed way. I don’t want to SELL SELL SELL to everyone. I want the products to speak for themselves – they really ARE gorgeous and worth it. So I now need to sort my OWN image out and get it out there that way.
I discovered Smore.com too! Wow it makes things SO easy! You can create flyers and brochures and they are SO easy to make but so professional and sharp looking at the same time. I made one for all the October goodies that are up for grabs – you can send them to pretty much ALL social media, including LinkedIn and Google+, which works for me, as I don’t have Facebook. I’ve had a good think about creating another Facebook account, but I really just cannot be bothered. I just really need to work on the social media I already have. Instagram, twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest. I’m sure I’m forgetting one… but I can’t think of it right now.
My business cards arrived from VistaPrint!! They look so professional and cool! I’m glad I took their recommendations (they do it as you create things – and you can make SO MANY branded things, from tshirts to business cards to tote bags to cups!) I gave some to my mother in law and she will hand them out when she heads home (only in November, but that’s ok – it’s still a huge help to me!) and husband says he will take some to work eventually – just not straight away as he’s not even started yet and it would be bad form I think, to start handing out things when you’ve just arrived!
I’ll just have to look AWESOME when I come visit him or come fetch him from work 🙂 I shall BE Shiny, and they shall WANT Shiny. I might even work that into my tag line… Be Shiny and they will Want Shiny. Or something. It’s a work in progress!
Pretty sure that despite all the good food (and bad food) we’ve been eating recently (before our HHG arrived and I could cook properly) I’ve actually lost weight… can’t check though as our poor scale seems to have shuffled off this mortal coil. *sigh* We’ll have to get ANOTHER one. This will be our FOURTH scale. They don’t make them like they used to, that’s for sure. Back home, we have the SAME scale we’ve had for about 20 years. Works great.
Husband begins in-processing tomorrow… he’s a little nervous, and a bit sad to be ending this lovely long holiday we’ve had together! We’re lucky in that: we can be “on holiday” anywhere, as long as we are together, with the dogs. Oh and he got a SUPER COOL haircut yesterday at a PROPER barber shop! It’s called Dapper and Company Men’s Grooming Lounge, and he loved the whole authentic barber shop experience. He was there for 2 hours and got a haircut (an undercut) and a great shave.
While he was out, I went through my clothes again and my mother in law had a look through what I was donating and grabbed a few things for herself as well.
And in this adventure story, there will be hurricanes, DNA results, surgeries, Lyme disease, new old cars, a road trip to the rural South of Georgia, new opportunities, broken things, fixed things and lots and lots of boxes.
First – the hurricane. If you are even vaguely aware of the weather around the world, you would have seen in the news the swath of destruction left behind by Hurricane Joaquim. Luckily for us, it focused its rage on South Carolina, and we only got the tail/tip – but it was pretty heavy even then. Pouring, driving rain for 5 days straight, windy and ranging from very cold and wet to very warm and wet. Strange times. The dogs and I got soaked, generally (I went through a lot of socks) as I wasn’t keeping them indoors anymore, because we were in the middle of discovering/mentally mapping our neighbourhood and checking out all the walk routes we had on offer. Note: there are LOADS of different routes, some nicer than others, some to be avoided in the mornings (too many kiddies on the way to school “OOH PUPPIESCANIPATTHEMCANICANIOMGTHEYBARKED *cue the screaming* and also the forest paths are lovely but best avoided in the early morning and early evening as that’s when the deer come out… and thus.. the hunters. Seriously.) and others to be avoided around lunch time as that’s when people come home during their lunch hour and feel it’s fine to just kick the dog out and “let them be” outside. No lead. No tether. No watchful eye. Nada. Odin does NOT like this idea and we’ve had a few frothing snarling snapping sessions while I drag him down the road, accompanied by barking (excited) Azzie and growling and barking (protective) Gina. Tim (from BH) was right: there was a great deal of “regression” for Odin in his behaviour, but he seems to be coming right now. It’s much easier to remove him from a situation than it was when we first got here – he was a monster. *Deep breath* I don’t even want to think about that first week.
Speaking of Odin! His DNA test results (thank you Wisdom Panel) came back today! And we were TOTALLY WRONG about the breeds he has in him! No Greyhound whatsoever (of any type) or Border Collie for that matter. Guess what he is? German Shepherd…. and… Irish Red and White Setter… AND… wait for it… Keeshond! Yes, you heard me… Keeshond! We were NOT expecting that one! Not sure where that falls in with his traits and behaviours and looks… but there you have it. He’s truly a mix and match, our gentle boy. I was on the right track with his training though – they are all tracking/hunting/search dogs, and of course GSH love agility too, so we’ve got him right there. Now we just need to find a local area to practice/socialise him again. And the girls.
I finally bit the bullet and bought the training collars… tone and vibrate only. We’re going to test it on ourselves first anyway, and then decide HOW and WHEN we will use them. Azzie will get one as well (I bought the 2 pack) to help curb her various naughty habits. We’ve tried everything else and she just ignores it and does what she wants, so I think this will work. I’ve been consistent. I’ve been patient – but over 2 years and she’s still doing her own thing, despite my best efforts? Yeah. Time for a new angle, right? I would never hurt my dogs – let me just state that right up front – but for distance training (for Odin) and catching Azzie in the exact moment of her bad habit (various ones!) will be much easier with this option. I’m still reading every bit of literature I can find on training using the collars, and we will only begin when we feel totally sure of what we are doing. My dogs are too precious to me to mess it up by just wading in and learning as we “go along” kind of thing. Nuh uh.
Precious dogs being Bernese, we keep a watchful eye out for lumps and bumps… and we found two (and now THREE) on Azzie, of various sizes. So on Friday morning last week she went in for surgery to have them removed. She didn’t go under – she was heavily sedated though, because she’s wriggly – but there was a heavy local anesthetic in the affected areas. She came through fine, none the worse for wear. The incision on her back is quite large, and for some reason the vet missed a stitch.. so there’s a little gap between two of them (6 stitches altogether) which we are keeping a close eye on for infection. She’s handling it well – I trimmed the excess hair around the edges of the shaved part, as it was tickling her and making her lick/scratch the area – and has been 80% good about not messing with the surgery areas. The one on her front leg is healing very quickly (only 1 stitch) and she has totally stopped licking that one now. She goes back to have the stitches removed in just under 2 weeks time. We MIGHT have to go in earlier if it gets infected, despite our best efforts. Here’s hoping they hold out until then.
My other precious Bernese, Gina, got a faint positive for Lyme disease before we left Germany, so the vet there suggested (strongly) that we get her tested again when we settle in here. So we did. Took over a week for the results (they do off site testing, unlike Germany) and it came back with another faint positive – so she either HAD Lyme disease (which is totally likely with the HORRIBLE ticks we had in Baumholder, who were seemingly impervious to anti-tick stuff!) at one point recently, or currently has it. Either way, she is being treated now and hopefully no damage has been done to her (already delicate) kidneys. Also hoping it will clear up the random lameness issue she has. It should, if it’s Lyme related.
In our urgent quest for a reliable and suitable second hand car (before our rental had to be returned) we have traveled far and wide around Georgia. One of our trips was far out into the country to view a comfy and well loved and used 4Runner. We headed down toward a place called Lincolnton and a road called Lincoln. This was the real South, people. The one you see in the movies and on TV shows about farmers and small towns. White fences, huge acres of grass, big drooping Willow trees, horses, cows, beloved old trucks kept in mint condition, combine harvesters, rolls of wheat resting in cropped down pastures, men and women sitting with their dogs on the porch and enjoying the afternoon light and the sweet smells from the Sweetpea flowers. Idyllic. Breathtaking. Peaceful. The light was absolutely gorgeous and I wished I had brought Bertha along. Little Ziggy (my purple point and shoot) did just fine though and I got some lovely shots as we drove through back roads and tree lined avenues that went on for miles and miles in one direction. It was a serene trip, there and back, and we had comfortable silences and many interesting and amusing conversations. We didn’t bring the dogs on this one, as there wasn’t much space in the back of the small rental car (we swapped it out a few days before – got rid of the minivan, as we didn’t need it anymore) for them to relax on a long trip like that. We checked out the 4runner, but it was a little TOO worn for our liking (knobs and things missing, bits falling off, and an unsettling smell that we couldn’t quite narrow down) and we thanked the VERY nice people and headed back home. Dogs were thrilled to see us of course. A few days later we went to check out an SUV (also an older one) and that was even more “well worn” – but luckily the man who was sorting the sale out for his elderly neighbour said “well I have this car here that we’ve done up and we’re selling” and we walked across the road to have a look at an older Honda Accord Station Wagon. We liked her, the moment we saw her… but we still had others to check out, so we drove her a bit, had a think and said we would get back to him. We then checked out a whole bunch of other cars and it all came down to a choice between a younger Honda Civic and this older station wagon. It was a difficult choice, but in the end a vast array of Pros in favour of the station wagon won out and we purchased her two days later. The Georgia DMV – Augusta one, anyway – is rather nice 🙂 We had no issues and soon we had plates, and license, and registration and then we had to think of a name. It took a few days, but we settled on Daisy. As in… driving Miss Daisy. She’s adorable and the dogs are LOVING all the space in the back! We’ve been giving her lots of TLC (new tyres, new sparks, etc etc) and she’s giving us back a smooth easy ride. Match made. Happy us.
Before we even left Germany we were on the look out for a washer and dryer (they don’t come with the house furnishings, unfortunately) and we found a set for a good price. We asked the reason for the good price and we were told that the dryer “just needed a starter button” and it was good to go. Lies. LIES! We’ve changed the starter button, changed the thermal fuse, tested all the wiring with a (newly purchased) volt meter and WE STILL CANNOT GET THE DAMN DRYER TO WORK! So it’s been “hang it outside on sunny days” old school laundry for us. The Sears serviceman was meant to come and check it out this morning, but they called and changed the date so we’re without a dryer for ANOTHER week. Meh. Hopefully it stays sunny for the next few days so we can get some laundry dry.
At least the washer works well.
My DIY husband handyman has fixed a few things in the house on his own, and when our shelves arrived with our HHG, he also (with a tiny bit of help.. seriously, hardly any help from me – I just held things and handed them to him) put them up and anchored them like a pro. Very proud of his handiwork!
A long time ago I had a chat with a friend about ways to make money while being a stay at home wife and fur mother, herbalist, photographer and seamstress but also contribute to my awesome family in more ways (especially financial) I have found many things and done many things. Where we were living before (Germany) made it quite difficult to get green things going and maintain them (and we had no garden and anything I grew in pots had to remain behind when we left… which we did, just over 2 weeks ago. It was hard saying goodbye to Persephone, Bob, George, Terence & Phillip, and the little Bamboos, but we found them a good home with a lovely German lady who will take good care of them all) and my other hobbies and potential income avenues (vintage inspired clothing and photography) were not allowed on the military post. Long story. But NOW… now we are back in the Land of the Free, and I can once again pick up the reins of these various projects and I’m very excited. I’ve also added two more ways to add to the family income. One is a virtual assistant site that I am a proud member of (Fancy Hands, if anyone is interested) and the other… wow… the other is even more exciting. I’ve been accepted as a Merchandiser for the rather cool, clever and fashion forward company chloe + isabel.
Now those who have known me since I was younger might be a little surprised at this (for a few reasons) and why I am so keen and excited about this opportunity. They perhaps thought I was too much of a tomboy to be “fashionable”, but I was always interested in fashion (even tried my hand at fashion design, much to my mother’s horror) but could never afford anything that I wanted and never had the tools to make anything properly. Or the patience, I will admit. I’ve always had very expensive taste (something I share with my mother and now my husband as well) and my idea of style was classic and elegant. (I’m an Isabel, according to the Friendship Philosophy of Chloe and Isabel) A complete opposite to what I wore (wear still…) when I was not in school uniform. Audrey Hepburn type of style: effortless, simple, classy and never going out of fashion. I secretly (and not so secretly) collected Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and any other fashion magazine I could get my hands on. Didn’t matter if it was 10 years old or 10 minutes. I’m not sure what happened after that (don’t remember – thanks head injury) that made me stop dreaming, but there were many years of quiet introspection where I “made do” with what I had and never really looked beyond my comfortable, useful and simple daily clothes. Work or weekend, I wore the same kind of thing. To be fair, I rode horses, walked dogs and stood around at events taking photos for 8 or 9 hours at a time, so comfortable was pretty key in what I wore.
The last few years, after marrying my gorgeous and awesome husband, I’ve started trying to develop my “style” – in between walking dogs of course. I’ve looked at starting a capsule wardrobe (after I learned that you don’t include “exercise” clothing or pajamas in the count! WOO!) and was looking at Stitch Fix as an option as well, but have since had a look at my wardrobe contents and I think I can make something out of what I already own, PLUS I will have all these GORGEOUS accessories from chloe and isabel!
Now to the point of this: moving to the States, settling into our little home and not having to move for a few years has made me realise that NOW is the time to start this: fresh clean slate, new me, new style, new attitude. I think that Chloe + Isabel is that kick in the bottom I need. I’m very excited about this!
When our household goods arrived two days ago (and with it, my clothes and shoes) I have been brutally honest and begun the process of paring it down to a few classic and timeless items that I can mix and match. The rest will go to charity/thrift shop. My mum is also going to send me what’s left of my stuff back home. It’s not a lot, but there are clothes there as well (I had to fit my life into two suitcases when I left home and moved to Germany to join my husband) and some shoes too (boots mostly, and riding things) and lots of books and music! I’m being positive about this all. I’m taking it all as a major opportunity to be the ME I’ve always wanted to be. I’m lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive husband as well. He makes all the difference. He said, “You have to spend money to make money, Andrea, so just do it.” I don’t want to let him down so I will be dedicated and try my UTMOST to make a success of this. I already have ideas, I have to admit, for things to do to get my name out there and start selling these beautiful pieces. Just have to get it all together. We’re still unpacking boxes from HHG, but we’re getting there and our house is beginning to look like a home already 🙂
I think that’s a good place to end Part Bee of the Adventure stories.
The beginning of our Adventures in Americaland aka the USA
The Big Day finally arrived and dark and early on a Sunday morning, we gathered our dogs, our bags and our passports and we got into the taxi and we headed off to Frankfurt airport. Dogs were surprisingly well behaved, despite being tired and anxious. They slept most of the way, as best they could, and there was no silliness from Azzie. She wanted to say hi to the driver, but he was a little wary of her – she’s a big girl. Other than that, no incidents. It was just on 2 hours to the airport. We arrived safe and sound, the sun just starting to think about coming up.
We grabbed some baggage carts and with the help of our very cool taxi driver, got the dogs to where we needed to be. Dogs were excited to be in the airport, with all the people, but generally behaved very nicely. Azzie barked at some other dogs, and at a very scared baggage handler, but other than that – all good. She was all over the place, of course – wanting to say hello to everyone and sniff everything. They were very thirsty too, but we couldn’t give them water as there was no way for them to go to the loo. They were also very hungry, as they’d only eaten the night before, quite early – also because they wouldn’t have a chance to go to the loo before the flight. We did take them for a 30 minute walk before the taxi arrived, in the wee hours – and they all went to the loo. We had to brace ourselves when the time came and we headed away from the dogs in their sky kennels – they were loaded up and there was nothing more we could do, as we had to go check in ourselves (it took an hour to sort everything out for the dogs and we still had to sort ourselves out!) and we were running very close to boarding time.
We were drenched in sweat from all the walking around, as we wore a few layers – it was pretty cold in the early morning when we left Baumholder – so we found a place to freshen up quickly, and then headed through security and customs and got to our gate to board just a few minutes before they called first passengers. We got unfortunate seats (the two middle seats in the middle section) but generally alright fellow passengers on our left and right. Food was good. Flights was VERY smooth (barely any turbulence, thankfully – I worried about the dogs in that) and we got a good tailwind and the flight was shortened by at least 45 minutes, which was great! Tried to sleep, as I was extremely tired – I never sleep the night before a journey like this – and I think managed about an hour straight, and then about 10 minutes on and off for the next few hours. Watched some movies, some tv shows, listened to some soothing music. Then we landed and we DASHED out as fast as we could to get to our precious fur children.
The dogs did pretty well in their kennels. Only Odin had an accident (but I don’t think it was fear induced, as it was “normal” poop, and he had managed to stay out of it for the flight. It was just a tiny bit) in his kennel, while Gina and Azzie managed to totally fold and bend up their kennel pads – Azzie’s was completely on its side while Gina had managed to fold hers in half and push it up against the door. They were SUPER excited to see us – much whining and yelping from Azzie, and Odin managed a tail wag for us – and after a LONG LONG wait in the “agriculture” line (for live animals etc) we MADE it and headed outside ASAP so the dogs could drink some water and have a piddle and a poop. They were VERY polite and waited so patiently for us. I was very proud of them all. Once they settled outside (which was, thankfully, quite pleasant in the low 20’s Celsius) with me and our extremely helpful airport concierge (I don’t even know what else to call him – he was awesome) Alex, next to the doggy “relief” patch and they had some water and lots of treats (I couldn’t get to their bowls at that point) we waited for husband to go get the rental car. It took a while, as we’d booked it for 4pm and we were out early due to the faster flight time. Eventually, he managed to find his way back to where we were waiting (Atlanta airport is quite confusing!) and we piled the dogs in (after I cleaned up Odin’s paws and bottom after his kennel accident) and loaded up their kennels and our bags, thanked Alex (tipped him well, don’t you worry) and we were off! We got OUTTA there as fast as we could. We found a secluded parking lot nearby and I fed the dogs and we stretched our legs and chilled for a little bit while husband reorganised the bags and the kennels in the back of our minivan. Then we went to find ourselves some food and husband’s first stop was Arby’s! Food was good – of course we were SO hungry by that stage that anything would have worked – and we devoured our sandwiches and gobbled down our water.
We then set up the GPS (my clever husband had already downloaded the maps before we left Germany) and we were off on the 2.5 hour journey to Augusta. Dogs settled in the back – lots of room, even with the kennels and bags) and were all sleeping heavily after just a few minutes of smooth travel.
Husband and I were quite refreshed though, thanks to the good flight (despite being cramped in the middle seats) so we were fine to drive. It was starting to get dark, so the few photos I got were a little blurry after a while, and I gave up. It was full dark by the time we got into Augusta and we tried to find the location of the motel/hotel that I had found online that took big dogs as well… but it wasn’t where it was meant to be…
We drove around, tried a Holiday Inn – they said no, but the kind receptionist gave us the address of the DoubleTree hotel and said that he was 99% sure they took big dogs and more than two of them. We found the DoubleTree with no issues, and yes… yes they took us in. By this time we were ALL exhausted and that bed, and that hotel, shall forever remain in our hearts as the Best Place Ever in Augusta. Three dogs? No problem. Three BIG dogs? No problem. We got a suite on the ground floor, near the entrance/exit doors and we lugged just one bag each up, and the dog food and bowls etc.
I fed the dogs again, just a little bit to prevent tummy issues, and I took them out one final time before bed, for their bathroom break. All good. Then we slept. And slept. And slept some more. Odin and Gina were so tired they couldn’t even make it on to the bed, but fell asleep on the floor and stayed there for the first part of the night. I moved a footstool over to the bedside so they could jump up on the high bed (which was SO COMFORTABLE!!!) and by the time the early morning came (and we were still on German time, remember) all three were on the bed, snoring their heads off, legs in the air. We were up very early, so I took them out, then we all had some breakfast. Husband I took it in turns, to keep the dogs company, to go to the breakfast buffet. It was delicious. I brought the dogs some well cooked bacon, as a treat for being so awesome.
We checked out around 0930 and headed off to the military post to get the lay of the land kind of thing, and then we met the realtor (a British lady from London, weirdly enough) at the little house that was going to be ours.
We are still waiting for our HHG (household goods) so our home is a little “minimal” but we’ve made do and found some awesome bargains at the thrift shop (Microwave AND an awesome set of pots and pans) and we have a very nice blow up bed that husband bought on our first day. Dogs are settling in nicely and so are we.
I think I will stop there for now.
Next part will talk about our trip down to the Real South, the tip of a hurricane, and our awesome car that we bought yesterday (9th) and other little things.
I thought it was time for another little update, as The Big Move gets closer day by day.
Just a few last items to update on our To Do list – need to find a buyer for Helga, asap, as we have to clear the vehicle registration department and can’t do that with a car on our name which we are not shipping back. We had a long list of buyers, and then slowly they fell through: they either got impatient and bought a car elsewhere, or they spoke to spouses “back home” who decided that they didn’t want the car, even though said spouses would never drive her… *shrug*, or they decided that she had too many kilometers on her, or they decided our price was too high all of a sudden. We’re left with 3 possibles: One of them is a young private who can’t really afford the car, but desperately wants it and needs to sell his little skadonk first and is trying hard to. We’re running out of time though, so we can’t give him forever… however, after all the other buyers fell through we went back to him and my husband has tried to make a deal with him and might even lower the price a bit if the other two possibles don’t respond soon.
After that, it’s health certificates for the dogs – and Odin’s tummy has been bad the last 24 hours but seems to be settling so I’m hoping he will be fine by the time our appointment rolls around. Otherwise they might not give him a clean bill of health to fly! On a side note from this: I tried a natural remedy that contained Slippery Elm to help alleviate his symptoms and it seems to have worked even better than the Sucralfate tablets that the vet gave us the last time they all had issues. I’m impressed… but of course Odin has not gone to the loo (#2 I mean – he’s piddled on everything today!) yet today, despite 3 long walks ranging from over 30 minutes to to an hour… I have been feeding him only a little bit of chicken and rice though, so I think it takes longer for that to become enough for him to need to go to the loo. Hoping that’s the case and it’s not a blockage that caused the issue in the first place. He tends to eat things and chew on things, and pick things up off the ground – old habits of a stray street dog die hard, eh? Another side note, which should probably be an entire post on its own, is my discovery of the Hedgewitch. It fits all my boxes and gets all the ticks and gold stars on my lists. Perhaps, when I am feeling more open and confident about it and where I stand, and we are more settled in our new home, I will post an entire explanation and back story about why I ended up searching/seeking/discovering the Hedgewitch. Mostly it’s just a very keen interest in herbs, plants and natural healing… and Nature herself as well. There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, but as I said – that’s a story for another time and I’ll update you when the time is right.
Other than Odin’s tummy troubles today and yesterday, the dogs are doing very well. Azzie actually likes her den and sleeps in it quite often (they are set up in the dining room, as there is nothing there anymore and we needed to keep the dogs in training with the dens, before the Big Move) without any asking/prompting from me or husband. Gina also goes into hers every now and then, without being asked, as she likes it but she likes getting a treat for going in there! Odin, being the experienced den traveler that he is… does NOT go into it without asking. He goes in, when asked, but does not enjoy it quite like the girls. He has other associations with being in a kennel so it’s not surprising, really. We train him too, but not as much as the girls. He will be fine when he’s in, it’s just the going in and out that we will have to watch him: he’s a darter.
What else can I update you all on? Our HHG have gone, 2 weeks ago now, and the rest of our shipped stuff (not going with us on the plane) goes next week… A few days after that we move into the hotel.. and just 3 days after that… WE FLY!
It’s exciting, but also terrifying and stressful. I just want it all to go well: for us and for the dogs. Send vibes, friends. I wish we could just teleport instantly. This whole waiting thing is crappola.
Took some photos on our walk in the old forest today – going to miss that.
Oh! Yes! Yesterday my awesome husband helped me flush and clean 10 years worth (maybe more – I can’t remember exactly when I last had it done, but it was a LONG TIME ago) of ear gunk and wax out of my ears, as the last few days I have gone almost completely deaf with the build up. As he cleaned and flushed and picked disgustingly large pieces of wax out of my ear canals, I could finally hear. 100%. I nearly cried with the intensity and relief of it. After that it was a case of getting my brain to readjust my “levels” after so many years of being “clogged” and having about 40% hearing. The clarity is unbelievable. Everything is SO LOUD! I can hear people speaking inside their buildings, with windows closed. I can hear EVERYTHING! In the forest this morning I was almost overwhelmed with all the beautiful sounds from the birds and deer and beetles and bugs and who knows what else. It was incredible! I felt ALIVE again! I no longer felt like I was in a deep well – isolated and foggy and dark. I can’t thank my darling husband enough for going through it with me. It was painful at times, and quite uncomfortable most of the time, but TOTALLY WORTH IT!
I CAN HEAR AGAIN!