Adventures in Americaland: Part Bee

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.

Adventures in Georgia - Tip of the Hurricane

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.

Adventure Dog Odin - German Shepherd Dog, Red and White Setter, Keeshond
German Shepherd, Red and White Setter, Keeshond. Who knew?

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.

Adventure Dog Azzie - Bernese Mountain Dog
Azzie ponders things in the back of the minivan

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.

Adventure Dog Gina - Bernese Mountain Dog
My sweet girl

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.

Adventure car - Miss Daisy Adventure car - Miss Daisy

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.

Adventures in Jewelry - Chloe and 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!

jewelry adventures and why I love my branch necklace

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.

I’ll update more as it happens, of course.

Until then, thanks for reading!


quiet days

Husband left on mission again early this morning – I had to drive him down to where they were being transported from, just before 0100. Took the dogs with, and Azzie (being the sensitive fur child that she is) picked up on my husband’s excitement and nervousness and impatience (the army does things in weird roundabout ways that take ages) and behaved like a complete crazy idiot. She leaped around and barked and whined and bashed into people and pulled me around. Husband lost his temper (not his fault – a lot going on) and couldn’t understand why she was behaving like that – I tried to explain that she was just picking it up from him, but he felt he was being calm and didn’t agree. On the surface he looked very calm, but she’s a sensitive dog, so she saw what was really going on inside him. This was proven when we said goodbye to him and headed back to the car – we were barely 10m away and she was suddenly calm, relaxed, walking easily on the lead with no pulling and no excitement. Hopped in the car just fine and all three dogs were quiet on the way home – heads out the window like usual – and they didn’t even bark at the MP and gate guards like they did on the way out.

So next time we go say goodbye or send him off somewhere and the dogs come with we will ALL be glugging some Rescue Remedy down :)

Dogs are amazing, really. Can’t hide anything from them.

The “silence’ experiment is going quite well: I’ve been walking them in near complete silence, with only positive remarks occasionally. I think that my tone when I speak all the time is perhaps confusing the dogs because my body language says something else, or my energy or something, I really don’t know. Or maybe it’s because by not talking I’m expressing my frustration/annoyance less, so it’s helping me remain calm? Could be a combination of all of that. We’ve encountered a few dogs in the distance and while my dogs have been interested (a bark from Odin, a small whine from Azzie and Gina puts her tail up and huffs) we’ve kept on walking without incident and with very little resistance from the dogs, even while the dog we’re passing by goes nuts on the end of their lead. We haven’t seen the Smug Man and his Husky recently: that will be the ultimate test for this experiment.


Now I have to get back into “mission mode” while my husband is away. I have to stop checking my phone for messages, and stop expecting to see him pull into our parking lot in Helga (our BMW) or hear his key in the front door lock. Will take a few days for me to sleep as well. Always does.


Silence is not always bad

Doing this #100happydays thing with a few friends – where you try and find at least one good thing about your day.

It’s been… interesting. I will admit that I skipped a day, or two. Not because I couldn’t find anything to feel happy about, but simply because my brain has enough trouble remembering things that help keep me moving each day and I just forgot completely to “take a shot” of something good.

I wanted to take a shot of my dog’s poop – that’s when I realised that I needed to think again. Reason being – my dogs have been so sick for so long, that seeing a “good” poop from them made me happy beyond words. Seeing it consistently for the last few days has really kept a lightness to my heart. Also, seeing Gina’s new energy level and playfulness (like when we first got her!) and Azzie calmness and happiness, makes me feel bad for them that they were sick for so long.

It’s still slow going – taking it a day at a time with this – but they are definitely getting better and this makes me HAPPY!

A happy fur mom.

Azzie has another issue that we now need to deal with – but it’s not making her sick and it doesn’t affect her in any way other than it embarrasses her and makes a little mess. Doesn’t happen all the time, of course – almost random, really – so it’s hard to sort out. Going to try something natural first, before we hit the drugs. Just waiting for it to arrive in the mail.

Husband has been gone “on mission” for a little bit and will be gone for a little while longer. I miss him, of course, and the house is silent without him – especially in the evenings and on the weekends when we let our hair down and listen to music, watch movies, laugh about things or he plays his games and gets loud and silly and has fun with his friends online.

But sometimes, it’s alright, the silence. I focus on things that I would normally ignore – me, for instance, and how I am doing.

Some people find it hard to understand that I really don’t mind being on my own. I’m never “alone” – just, not in the company of people. This is fine with me – I like my own company. I can say/think what I want when I am with me – no filter necessary to either tone it down or make it understandable to other humans. My husband gets me better than most, I will admit, but even for him, some of the things that come out of my mouth, from the depths of my dark mind, even he doesn’t always understand it.


I’ve had more memories return, as well, from my youth. It seems 10 years is long enough to keep them locked away and now they are starting, slowly, to resurface. I’ve “dreamed” a few – but I know they are _real_ not just my usual vivid dreams. I “remember” them when I wake up. Things come back to me. I have been a little… saddened I guess is the word, by some of them. Because I could not (cannot) remember most of what happened to me before the accident, when things come back and I can understand them better, see them from an older and wiser perspective – I see things now that I was completely oblivious to when they happened.

One of the memories nearly woke me screaming the other night. I woke up with jaw clenched, hands clenched so hard my nails dug into my palms. I was sweating profusely and my heart was beating so hard I felt like I was going to vomit. And my head hurt so badly I couldn’t move it. My husband slept on, so I am assuming my “noise” was all internal. Which is fine. It’s not a memory I wanted to share, anyway.


Head injury, and PTSD, affect us for so long after they happen. Sometimes the recovery can be painful – not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. New pathways are formed in our brains, which means new ways of seeing things. Some of the things can really suck.

Luckily, one of the good things that came of my head injury, PTSD, and subsequent recovery is that I am very strong, mentally. I am also very close to myself. If that makes sense. I know _me_ and I know what I am and who I am and what I can and cannot handle. So, while I feel like I wasted my youth trying to have things I could never have, be with people who didn’t want to be with me at all, or get myself into situations I should have been smarter about – I learn something from every memory that comes back.

Any fellow sufferers who read this – hang in there. Don’t give up. Be strong. Be yourself. Trust yourself.


A mental raccoon moment

*rustle rustle*

Hello :)

I realised I haven’t posted in a while and I wanted to gather myself a bit and put down my thoughts from the last few weeks.


* Azzie is coming along very nicely. We seem to have sorted out her tummy issues with careful application of 100% pure pumpkin for when it was very bad (yes, I will swear by it) and boiled chicken and plain rice (white or brown, it doesn’t matter – they both work) – first as total meal, and then adding her dry food very slowly. Now she is eating her full portion of dry food, but still with chicken and rice (just a little bit) which I am slowly removing, once we know her stomach is completely settled and stable.  I think they both got a bug, which they passed back and forth between them for a few days. So I washed all their toys, bowls, Kongs and bedding and blankets and it seems to have gone away… We’re taking it slow, and we’re sticking to one brand of food, too. I don’t think our search for the “right brand” helped her puppy tummy, either.

As far as her training, manners, behaviour are concerned: we are impressed. She sleeps through the night, no issues and she is learning very fast. They are highly intelligent, these dogs, and she’s definitely on a par with Gina, despite her young age. We’re working on a few bad habits (that she picked up from Gina as well) with both of them, but we see progress every day, so it’s a positive thing. I’m trying my best to use positive training – but I would say I use a mix of it. I’m not 100% positive reinforcement, as much as I would like to be.

I adore Azzie, and I am learning to love her (I will admit we butted heads a lot in the beginning and we still do sometimes – she’s very stubborn) but I must say that it was much simpler with just Gina. She and I were tight. Close. Amigos during the day and when husband went away. I just hope she doesn’t feel like she’s been usurped by Azzie, because I still love Gina far more – that’s being honest. I don’t dislike Azzie – not in the least – and I wouldn’t want to lose her now – she is part of our family and we stick by her through everything –  but I think that it was such a huge undertaking, such an enormous jolt to our quiet little lives, when she arrived, that my … id? my ego? my… nature?… something… it’s still settling. She’s only been with us just on 2 months now. It feels like forever though – and not always in a good way, to put it bluntly. I was so used to my calm, gentle, well-behaved G-Girl, that it was just an attack on my senses: this wild, stubborn, enormous pawed, white toothed monster who took whatever she wanted, ate everything, lay where she wanted, didn’t listen to anyone, pushed Gina around and jealously destroyed toys that Gina had had for years if we paid too much attention elsewhere. At least _that_ has eased off.

She is lovely though, and her personality is finally emerging and she’s calming down and settling in with us and I know she is happy now she has a family too – and I would never take that away from her. I would never want to! She grows on you :) I am sure that in a years time we will look back and laugh (and sigh in relief) that all this “crazy” is over and she’s a sweet, kind,  gentle, CALM, little munchkin – like her big “sister” Gina.

* More snow! We’ve had a few days of snow now, and apparently a few more to come… which is awesome, as I love the snow and so do my dogs! Husband is not so keen, but he knows the dogs love it, so he grumbles less when he takes them out and they play around like hooligans in it :) You can’t help but pick up on their enthusiasm for the weather… it makes you smile.

* My sewing should pick up again as soon as my sewing paper arrives – tracing paper for patterns. I tried wax paper and it worked, for one brand, but every other brand I tried is too slippery to write on, so I had to give that up and just buy proper stuff online.

My material for my pencil/wiggle skirt arrived, so I can’t wait to start on that either.. that should (SHOULD – without puppy interruptions, of course) be a one day thing, maybe two. I just really want to COMPLETE something now… I’m tired of sitting here in seamstress limbo…

Starting with this one Just need some snaps


* I was asked to take photos at another military ceremony (a promotion for an awesome man and great officer) recently and I was honoured to be asked. Photos came out well, despite my Speedlight giving me issues. I know that I have grown as a photographer, when something like that doesn’t phase me and I still manage to get the job done! The Viper Pit has honed my skills, for sure.

* I’m missing home terribly, recently. My friend Steph says it’s probably because everything is settling into a “normal” routine here, and I finally have come down to earth and feel the distance because I am no longer focused on other things (my green card, viper pit, school, moving). I miss my mom. I miss my beautiful dogs back home too, and my gorgeous cats. I even miss my brother.

* My husband is moving forward nicely in his school, and I am exceptionally proud of him. He’s almost completed his Maths module and has seemingly discovered a strange love/hate relationship with mathematics that he didn’t realise he had. I think I felt the same at one point, when I was in school, but after my head injury my brain is just too scattered sometimes to focus as one should. I’ve managed to keep up with him, so far, and managed to help him figure out some steps a few times… but mostly I just feel a bit pathetic and lost. It’s a horrible feeling for me – I’m not saying I was a genius before, but it’s times like that when I become aware of how much my thought processes have been scrambled from my head injury, and because I have not had to “use” those processes necessary for mathematics and more “logical” thought (which is surprising, for someone who is, generally, very logical and rational) I seem to have “lost” the pathways necessary for it. I’m very sure that with repetition and practice I would get it back, with new pathways formed in my brain, but I am a little scared that if I try, and it doesn’t come back… I am scared of how I would feel. I would feel humiliated. I would feel “less’ than I was before. I think I avoid “trying” so that I can’t disappoint myself.

That’s being pretty honest with myself. I didn’t think I could put that down in writing. There it is.

I need a cup of tea and a headache tablet.


Stay strong, TBI sufferers. There’s always hope, and we have more strength than we know.