I thought it was time for a little update, as I have been absent for a couple of weeks now.
I had plans, but my plans were as usual, rearranged and postponed and dropped from my lists due to circumstances not under my control.
This little update is about the NEW plans I’ve made because of all these changes that have occurred.
The dog walking idea was pushed way back to the basement of my list, because the housing facilitators here on post decided that our (very nice) temporary (no dig) fence from Lowe’s did not “fit the aesthetic” of the post and so instead of our nice and easy back yard fence, they said if we wanted a fence it had to be exactly like the others on post (chain link, horrible looking things) so that it fit in. We would also pay for it ourselves and it would have to be PUT IN PROFESSIONALLY and permanently… which means digging, which means a dig permit from the Georgia land council. Plus, when we move out of here, we have TO PAY TO GET IT REMOVED. How completely bizarre is that? We offered a no dig, temporary fence we could remove with barely any trace… and we could do it ourselves, and it was a very nice looking fence…. and they said NO because it wasn’t “like the other” fences and it had to be permanent. It really boggles the mind. *shrug*
So there went all my ideas of walking my three dogs, just three times a day and being able to walk other people’s dogs the rest of the day. There are a couple of people I might still reach out to… because I feel so awful for their poor dogs (one, chained to a tree in the back yard) that I cannot bring myself to just let the idea go completely. But for now… it’s back burner for that idea.
Husband and I were then trying to think of ways to create a “yard boundary” that wasn’t a fence, but that we could use as a deterrent for young Odin and keep Azzie and Gina from straying into the neighbours yard area.
We decided on an elevated stake and line for Odin, when we are outside with him and the girls. Even if we had managed to put in a fence, I would never leave my dogs unattended out there. We also went to Lowe’s garden section and bought some very big planters and some soil and some seeds (husband said “go nuts!” so I did!) and we will space those out around the boundary area of our “yard” and that should keep Azzie and Gina from straying too far. Of course we’ll have to roll them out the way when the landscape people come to mow etc, but that’s small price to pay for the creation of “our space” for us and the dogs. I love our dogs.
I can’t wait for early spring so I can start planting! I have so many beautiful things to grow! Useful, beautiful, herbs and plants and flowers. I definitely inherited my mother’s green thumb and love of gardens.
The online boutique is slow and as my friend said, perhaps selling other people’s stuff is just not for me… so I took the initiative and gathered some things together and have begun making hand made jewelry items as well. I think this is the right direction, as I have already sold 2, and have 4 orders pending on one item and 2 on another! I sell in various groups on FB, and I have created an etsy shop as well (link is in the sidebar, if you are interested) – I have to say that actually CREATING things using my hands and imagination is far superior to selling someone else’s stuff… as pretty as it might be. I think I have found my excellent hobby which, depending on various elements, could turn into something more serious.
I have ALSO bitten the New Year bullet and signed up for a Medical Transcription and Editing course – via the military tuition and assistance people. I begin the course in February I think (could be late January) and it’s all online, including the exams, and when I have completed the course and passed the exams, I will be helped with finding employment – which is ALSO all online so I can work from home! I can earn a good supplemental income and will finally feel like I’m contributing to our family. This means a lot to me, as you might have noticed.
I am also still going to complete my security/IT courses and see where that leads me.
I also want to continue my Russian language learning, and perhaps branch out into Spanish as well (since we are in the USA and Spanish is the second most spoken language) while we live here.
So my life is full and there are BIG plans and while they are not all the plans I had last year, I think they will work for me now.
I’ve been meditating and doing mental gymnastics to get my head in order and I think it’s starting to work. The decisions I have been making, after consideration of course (I am a Libra and I am me, after all), have all felt Right. Like I made the right choice and I have no regrets about them. This is a good feeling for me. Long may it continue.
Enjoy this Peacock ore – yes, those are the natural colours! Isn’t it beautiful? It makes me happy, looking at it.
I have some of this of my own. It really is such a happy stone.
I don’t have resolutions, but I definitely have plans, and maybe a few goals too. Resolutions are for people who don’t really want to expend too much effort, because they know that resolutions made for new year are not normally expected to be kept beyond February, March latest. Nobody will hold it against you if you give up 3 months in to the year! My plans are for the whole year, and even beyond if they work out the way I am hoping they will!
I have set my mind on the Octopus method of contributing to my awesome family: multiple streams of varying levels of income, which adds up to something viable and useful. Yes, it will be hard work – all of it will. Everything I am choosing to shove my finger into will require a great deal of time and effort, but in the end, it will be worth it. Pieces of the pie will add up to deliciousness.
A lot of my ventures will depend on some small steps and things to occur before I can continue, but they aren’t deal breakers, just conveniences.
In no particular order, my plans for the new year include:
Writing for a science fiction anthology that I was invited to pitch a story for.
Begin a dog walking service on the post! Once we get our fencing up, I will be able to take my dogs for a set 3 walks a day, instead of 6 or 7, as they won’t require bathroom breaks to be included as we will have a little back yard for them for that! Once my dogs are set in a good routine (I would never neglect them for anything, especially money, or other dogs!) I will offer my services to the neighbourhood. I’ve already been approached by a few people, asking if all three were mine and if I walked for other people, so I know there’s a market for my skills. I will also brush up on my first aid skills, and get my CPR/BLS certificate for dogs (I have the course ready to roll, just need to make the time to complete it) so that I can set people’s minds at ease about that. I will have a few stipulations of course, for the dogs I will walk, but I really think it will work. Even if it’s just a few dogs a day, Monday to Friday. Will have to rethink things when summer rolls around, as the humidity is killer here in Georgia.
Work on my website – on my own and also with my awesome friend Vanessa of VMCA.
There’s so much to do, I’m pretty excited! I will be busy, and tired, but I will finally make some sort of contribution to our family and feel good about myself and my worth. I feel good though, knowing that I definitely have plans for the new year!
Here’s a little update on my Capsule Wardrobe experience so far!
My capsule wardrobe, it works! It’s made my life a lot easier. I know exactly what I have to wear and I waste no time choosing it in the morning.
Even when I include my workout and dog walking clothes, my capsule item count is lower than I thought it would be.
If I do my best to keep everything in the same place after it’s washed and folded, my cupboard is so neat and tidy it’s so awesome.
I have barely anything to do when it comes to laundry time! I have so few items and I wear them through the week (I have enough capsule items for that) that I only have to do one load on the weekend. That’s pretty cool, and energy efficient.
My new outlook on my wardrobe has even encouraged my husband to tidy his side of the cupboard! He hasn’t gotten rid of anything, but his wardrobe is pretty minimal already, being an army man. He has a lot of tshirts, but that’s it really.
I still haven’t taken the boxes to the thrift store – I need to check when I’m allowed to bring in items for consignment. I want to make SOMETHING out of this. Even if it’s just a little bit.
We took all the extra dog stuff (ended up being a large cardboard box full) to the nearest local animal shelter and they were grateful, but I was expecting a LITTLE bit more excitement, I have to admit. I mean I didn’t want a parade or streamers or anything! But a “Thanks, this will make the dogs happy!” would have been nice. We got a nod, a “yes, that’s nice” when I showed them some of the cool stuff in the box and then they wandered off. I know they’re busy but if you rely on public donations etc… a little bit more… public interaction would work, is what I guess I’m trying to say. ENTHUSIASM. That’s the word I’m looking for. They were grateful, but not particularly enthusiastic. I think that’s what kinda got to me a little bit. HOWEVER, I do understand the sad realities of animal shelters and working there. The sad truth behind the daily grind – finding food, cleaning cages, watching dogs and cats pine for owners who abandoned them, or shut down from years of abuse, or being overlooked because they’re quiet and shy. And the golden oldies being ignored for the cute little puppies or kittens. It gets to your heart after a while. I do understand this. I did a lot of work with shelters, I know what it’s like. So while I understand the jaded numbness, perhaps taking the enthusiasm from the person offering things and feeling a LITTLE brighter about it all, just in that moment.. that might work? I greatly respect and admire people who volunteer and work for places like that. I know it’s hard. I wish I could win the lottery and give them all a HUGE donation. Or buy a huge farm with a big warm house and lots of land and high fences so I could adopt ALL the animals (goats, chickens, sheep and everything else too) and let them live out their lives in a sanctuary with freedom. It’s a big dream.
In other news:
We got our first Blue Apron delivery on Saturday morning! We’ve prepared two of the three meals already and tonight we will make the final dish I think. We made the first meal together, and I made the second meal (pasta) for his lunch on Monday. It was definitely outside our comfort zone, but we stuck to the recipe instructions exactly and it all turned out great. If you ever get the chance and/or inclination – give Blue Apron a try… It’s exciting (and a little terrifying!) diving in like that, but the recipes are pretty easy to follow and they give you ALL the ingredients already measured out perfectly.
For the last few months (even before we left Germany) I’ve been pondering the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I had a lot of clothes, mostly given to me by awesome people when I had nothing – but only a few items that I actually chose for myself and brought with me from back home in South Africa. 90% of what I had was not really my “style” and as I have been pondering and thinking and formulating and percolating the idea of what my style actually is I have come to the realisation that I can live with a lot less, but still have a sense of classic style. That’s what my style is – old school, not vintage per say (but I DO love vintage 30’s 40’s and 50’s obviously, however I’m not really built for them) but the old classics and pieces that never really go out of fashion. I like comfortable, simple and clean lines, and now that I’ve lost weight I can wear pretty much all the things I like. Thing is, I don’t own a lot of the things I like – I have things that other people liked, but they gave to me. I’m not ungrateful – that’s totally not what I mean – I’m simply stating how things turned out.
When our HHG arrived, I made my first task a “layout” of everything. Absolutely EVERYTHING I owned. That included shoes (most of them I had never worn, as they were just a TINY bit too big for me or I’d never had an occasion to wear them… or they were just NOT my style and I took them anyway because who doesn’t like free stuff, right?) and underwear and scarves and everything else. I got rid of at least 70% of the things I had. I learned in my research on capsule wardrobes, that your “exercise” stuff, and your “fancy” stuff and your “sleep” stuff are not included in the capsule count – this made me happy, as I have a lot of exercise clothes, thanks to my previous horse riding and dog walking “jobs” and my current 3 dog circus daily walking.
I also decided, 1 week after our HHG arrived, to go through everything one more time and get rid of more jerseys, sweatshirts and jackets. My mother in law was visiting at the time and she took a few tops and things that were her style, or her sister’s and even a piece for her mother (that just tells you that the items I had really were NOT “me” hey?) so that helped me too. The rest all went into a donate box which is CHOCKA BLOCK full of stuff now. I’m quite proud of myself, actually. If I force myself, I think might even be able to cut it down some more – but if I do that, I need to know that I can buy the pieces I WANT at that time, so I’m holding off on that until I’ve made some money with my Chloe and Isabel boutique. I want to be able to do these things on my terms, with my own money. I feel so guilty using my husband’s money! I know he says “what’s mine is yours!” but it still irks me. I used to earn my own way. It’s hard to rely on someone else COMPLETELY for things. Just really hoping my jewelry sales take off, because that would be totally awesome. Word of mouth works way better than trying to market yourself to a new audience all the time. I know this well from my photography days. I never even put out a flyer. I had business cards, for a while, but mostly it was just word of mouth from happy riders that got my name out there. I don’t know ANYONE here, and not being on Facebook is (and I admit this very grudgingly) somewhat of a road bump in all this. But I’m not going back to it. Nuh uh.
Now that I have unfettered access to Joann’s and Hobby Lobby and every other fabric and sewing store imaginable, I can also start buying the proper things to MAKE what I want! Vintage or otherwise – I have patterns for just about everything I need. I just need to get going. In the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf – JUST DO IT!
No more pansy ass procrastination! No more excuses! No more “tomorrow I will” putting it off. TODAY! TODAY! TODAY!
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!
Tick tock… the time draws closer. PCS stress is no laughing matter! Moving is a crazy time – moving continents and countries is even harder – especially with three big dogs in tow.
Yesterday was a very stressful and tiring day for all of us. The moving people came and took away 99% of our “stuff” (HHG – for the military inclined)
Dogs were pretty darn well behaved – just a few “outbursts” from Gina, which of course set Odin and Azzie off. They spent the first hour on the balcony, just so that they could get used to the moving guys traipsing around the apartment and carrying boxes and the sound of tape being used and things being dismantled and boxed up. Then they got to come out and greet the movers (who loved them, despite Gina’s gold fish memory when they were going in and out of the door, carrying and fetching) and they then relaxed with us in one corner. Husband and I took turns sitting with them, or going and Doing Things, or just taking a little break and stretching our legs.
I took them for a couple of walks (including a 30 minute walk in the early morning before the movers arrived) during the day, and one drive in the car in the BUCKETING rain – just to get them out, as they couldn’t stay on the balcony in that weather! The roads were rivers! I had my wipers on at their fastest setting and it was still almost impossible to see! It was scary, but strangely fun too. Dogs were great, except that when that stormed rolled in, there was violent lightning and thunder and Azzie was a complete wreck. She actually scratched at the balcony door and was shaking and whining and drooling in terror. That’s when I took them for the drive – just so they could relax in the car (Azzie and Odin love my car: they feel safe) and get away from the stress of the apartment for a little bit. After that storm, even though it was calm again (just a little bit of rain) Azzie REFUSED (threw a complete tantrum) to go back onto the balcony, even if I sat with them. Eventually, around 7pm, the last box was taken down to the truck and we could close our door and settle in to the very bare and minimal apartment.
We kept the dog beds, and our bed linens, so the dogs had those familiar things to relax on and that helped with their stress levels. I couldn’t find their Rescue Remedy though! I am going to unpack my suitcase and backpack today and look for it. I know it’s there somewhere! I did pack it!
Otherwise, I am quite enjoying the minimal lifestyle that we are now living before the REST of our stuff gets packed (the stuff that flies over, so it SHOULD be there before the HHG) and then it’s just backpacks and suitcases for a few months!
I’m sitting here quietly, on the couch with my laptop on the coffee table, trying to be very quiet while the dogs snooze. There was very loud and constant range fire this morning on our long walk, and Azzie was once again a complete wet blanket. Poor thing. I think with all the stress of yesterday, and then the loud kabooms of today, she just couldn’t manage. She HURLED herself forward from the car and the whole way around and back to the car. Nearly pulled my arm out of the socket numerous times. She’s a strong girl and when she is scared/stressed she is even stronger! I’m not coddling her though – I know that just makes it worse for her – but I am trying to be “gentle”, with a all of them, after yesterday. They were really good, so I’m trying to be calm, serene, in charge for them today.
I really need another cup of tea though… and the loo!
I just don’t want to disturb Azzie, who is finally sleeping properly (no heavy breathing and drooling and shaking) after I closed the balcony door to stop her hearing the explosions from the range.
Ah, there we go.. she has stirred softly… now’s my chance!
Anyhoo – that was just a small update of things so far.