Tag Archives: Odin

Time Flies And It Is Not Always Because It Is Fun

And The One Where We Set Out On A Gaming Adventure

I was astounded when I checked the date on my previous post! So much has happened, and, as usual, that’s my weak excuse for not writing sooner.

Let’s start with the bad news, or at least, the things that were not so fun.

First thing, a few months ago we gave the dogs a nice bath in our new elevated dog bath (it works SO well, and takes a huge strain off our backs and allows the dogs to lie down if they want to, without getting covered in grass/dirt) and I noticed a lump between the toes of Gina’s front left paw. It had not been there a couple of weeks earlier, I was reasonably sure of that, and it was pretty large. We took her to the vet and the lump was biopsied – mast cell tumor, grade 2. It was terrifying news… these are aggressive and often reappear in the same spot after they are removed. We were given some options – surgery to remove it, or very expensive chemotherapy that is no longer sold in the US, only in the UK, that we would have to import, may not work, and would cause massively nasty side effects. Gina already has delicate kidneys and liver, and has a very sensitive GI tract, and these were the main things affected by the therapy. On the surgery side, Gina is 13 years old now, and a Bernese (so very sensitive to anesthetic) and surgery was a frightening thought. We discussed it at length, with both the vet and each other, and we decided to go through with the surgery and hope for the best. Thankfully, our tough cookie came through with flying colours. There was also good news – the tumor was grade 2, not grade 3, and they found no evidence of metastasis or lymph node inclusion. These were massive wins. However, we now have to keep a VERY close eye on her paw and look for any signs of recurrence. I have also started researching natural/alternative options to chemotherapy to prevent any recurrence of this nasty lump.

The nasty tumor
Postop “monkey paw”

Other bad news were the struggles that my cousin has been going through with cancer. She is such a fighter, and she has been through so much… but the punches just keep coming. Every time something positive happens… something negative comes along and derails the hope… but she continues to fight, and her family (and mine!) continue to hope for the best. I love you, cuzz, and even though I am far away, I think of you often, and I wish I could do more.

Now, some good things.

Firstly, after a wait of over 10 months, my new passport finally arrived from back home. Thank you, Home Affairs, for allowing me to continue my dream of learning to fly! I also (Very recently!) made the final payments and filled in all the final document requirements with the TSA and FAA, coordinating with my flight school, and now I wait, again, to see if everything has been approved and I can resume my lessons. Unsure if I need to do another background check and fingerprints… but we will see. And if I have to, I am happy to do it! No excuses here!

We added 2 more birds to our Budgie Cohort – Gaius, and Aulus (Bros for life!). They are delightful, sassy little spitfires, and we love them dearly. There were some hierarchical battles a few months after we got them as they all sorted out the pecking order (literally!) and the babies grew older. Their personalities have really blossomed, and the flock is now wonderfully loud and obnoxiously cute. Brutus and Commodus are tentatively rekindling their OG friendship (before Gaius came along and Brutus lost himself a little bit, completely spurning Commodus in the process) and Gaius and Aulus are living up to their ancient Roman graffiti and becoming very close buddies!

From L to R – Commodus (our first birb child), Brutus (second and most birb-like birb child), Aulus (youngest and our 4th birb child), and Gaius (our chunky 3rd birb child).

After a terribly boring period in a culinary rut, we decided to try a meal kit service (and yes, we were incredibly wary after the Blue Apron kale saga) called Every Plate – it’s made by HelloFresh, but far more reasonably priced, with simpler, more accessible recipes, simple steps, and NO KALE! We have had some great times with these recipes so far – and we’ve even made a few of the recipes on our own on the side! Once you get the hang of it, you can easily figure out what the steps will be and prep becomes a breeze. We’ve also learned some handy tricks and taste combinations that we will definitely be using in the future. Before Every Plate, we were using a service called Butcher Box (disclaimer – that’s a referral link where you can get some money off your first box, as well as New York strip steaks free for a year, and I get a small bonus) where you pick some select cuts (all hormone free, pasture raised, humanely kept and slaughtered) from small farms (and they often use local farmers where possible, which makes it even better) for a set rate, and it gets shipped to your door. We loved the service, but I put it on pause while we try out Every Plate for a few months. We will definitely go back to it when we have enough recipes from Every Plate to allow for a nice variety of meals every week. Each week, EP has some NEW recipes, as well as customer favourites, and you pick the meals you want for the week.

It was also recommended I try a subscription box with Japanese snacks, which comes FROM Japan and contains items from local and small mom- & pop-owned bakers and confectioners. You get a little booklet in each box with information about each treat and who made it and where it comes from in Japan. Each box is also themed – sometimes the seasons, other times the festivals, etc. It’s fascinating and delicious stuff! It’s called “Bokksu” (literally, “box” in Japanese) and I encourage you to try it out! (That is linked to a referral for Bokksu where you get $15 off your first box, and I get $15 off my next box.)

Our first Bokksu – Sakura celebration

Right, and now the cryptic “Gaming Adventures” reference…

I looked at my game list in GOG Galaxy (Which has all my various gaming accounts/launchers linked in one place) and I saw that I have over 600 games (643 to be exact) and I have never played or INSTALLED about 90% of them! Virgin games, so to speak! I felt bad for these games… scrolling through them all… games ranging from old beloved games like Baldur’s Gate (1 and 2) and Age of Mythology or Dungeon Keeper (1 and 2!), to brand new games like Icarus and Microsoft Flight Sim 2020, and indie games like Among Trees and Ashwalkers, or the Bad Dream series, and Deliver Us the Moon. The list goes on…

So, I was thinking of starting a Gaming Adventure where I load up GOG and start from the top (alphabetically and alphanumerically) and install each game, on its own, and play it. I will ATTEMPT to finish each game before moving on, but this may not always be possible. For MMO/MMPORG games, I may start by creating a character and playing for a week, just to say I played it. Yes, there are a few MMO’s that I have not played, like Black Desert Online, and games like that. These can obviously not be “finished” really, and I don’t think trying to complete any “main quests” would be viable if I want to keep a semi-regular schedule and not get lost in the abyss of the game.

Additionally, I will keep a few games permanently installed such as Microsoft Flight Sim 2020, because it will now be an install of over 300 GB with all the updates and addons, and I don’t have time or energy to go through that again, or to set up my flight gear, plus, I need it for flight training. I will also keep ESO installed to play with my friends, as we play this quite regularly, as well as American Truck Sim, to play with my husband. I will also skip certain games as I have played them extensively already and need to keep ticking off the list – games like Icarus, for example. It will actually be quite exciting to reinstall Icarus later on after a bunch of new updates have come through. I may also skip Skyrim, as I have played a vast number of hours in that game. I will consider each game as it appears in the list and decide whether it will be installed and played, and for how long, or whether it will be skipped.

Wish me luck!

My first game, according to the GOG launcher, will be 35 MM – I briefly played the game a few years ago (2018!) but something else came along that required my attention, and I uninstalled it after only a few hours of gameplay.

I will try and remember to post each time I start a new game with a few details about the game. I may save these posts when I am finished playing, before I start another game next in the list. That way, I can do a little synopsis and write down my feelings/impressions of the game.

Birthdays and memorials

Yesterday was Gina’s 12th birthday, and tomorrow is Odin’s 8th or 9th birthday, so we decided to celebrate both at the same time yesterday. They both got a little cake with a candle, and lots of freshly grilled steak. They were super stoked. This morning I took Odin for a “birthday” 2-mile walk. He is a happy, tired little Boog.

We will celebrate Azzie’s 9th birthday in April, with more cake, ice cream, and steak!

In memory of our sweet Hazel, and also to commemorate Gina’s 12th birthday (a HUGE milestone for a Bernese Mountain Dog) we planted our live “Christmas” tree. We called him Pepe the Pinon Pine. Long may he thrive and provide shelter to birds and shade to the humans and cats.

The Hermit

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.

How Things Change

And guess where we are now?

Yup, back in New Mexico.

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 🙂

 

Just wasn’t for us, I guess.

 

Gathering the Goods

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.

 

Steps Forward – An Update

Steps Forward

I felt it was time to have a little update on life in the “milburbs” and things happening.

First off – Odin has made some remarkable progress with meeting new dogs and making friends. Besides our friend Max, who is his absolute BEST BUDDY EVER, he has now made friends with some other dogs – including some WHITE dogs (which he had issue with before) and some very excitable dogs (which he also had issue with before) and while we are still careful with the meet-and-greet process (Even at the dog park) he has made some really awesome steps forward in his behaviour. Dealing with dogs on our walks has also become more manageable (not totally great yet, but getting there) now that he’s got Max in his life, and we often meet them and walk with them (walk bonding is the best way to get dogs to calm and become friends) on long walks and he used to get silly about seeing a dog in the distance, now he wiggles his butt and barks (but that’s also the influence of Azzie and Gina, who bark even when they know the dog as well!) and when he knows it’s Max he is SO HAPPY he leaps about and wiggles and smiles and pokes all his friends with his nose.

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My husband got to see how far he had come (because he’s not there for the day-to-day work that I do with them) on 2 occasions now – once at the beach when he met a couple of VERY energetic and noisy dogs for the first time (a friend of his from work brought her two) and again at the dog park (when he met another dog for the first time, who belonged to a friend of my husband’s)

The dogs had an absolute BLAST at the beach, as well – their first ever time. They ran and ran and dug in the sand and swam and were utterly exhausted by the end of the morning. They made new friends, and found a new place to be wild and free and happy. It was a magical morning.

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In other, slightly more worrying news.

Ever since we got Gina, she has had a slightly elevated protein level – kidneys/liver were the main culprits. In Germany, one of the reasons the vets suggested she be spayed (She was still intact when we adopted her, age 3) was because the levels climbed and she started having hormonal issues and multiple “heats” in a row and they were scared it would lead to pyometra or something cancerous (Bernese are prone to cancers, unfortunately) so we had that done and while the levels dropped, they were still just SLIGHTLY above average.

We went to various vets in Germany (due to moving, not due to any issues) and each one gave us the same diagnosis and suggested a medication that could help. In the EU it is called “Fortekor 28” and it was very expensive, but we put her on it and it helped a great deal to keep her levels regulated. Still slightly above average, but never dangerous.

Then, upon moving to the USA, the new vets (both military and civilian) said they wouldn’t put her on the medication (which we eventually found had a nice well-priced generic version) until they had done their own tests… so when she had to have blood tests done to check that the Lyme disease (which she had picked up in Germany thanks to the diabolical ticks there) was all cleared out of her system, they indicated higher levels than she had previously, because she had not been on the tablets since we left Germany. The vet (who we settled on) said not to worry and we could wait and see until her annual heartworm tests were done. So, a few months ago when the heartworm tests were done (negative!) they also drew extra to test her levels.. they were quite high (in the 800’s when they SHOULD be under 100 – as that’s where her levels had been before, when I checked on her previous labs from Germany) but unfortunately the vet who we were working with had a family emergency and left the practice where he worked! A few weeks later, we knew we had to bring her in for her “senior” panel (As she is now over 7 years old) and asked them to test again. They did and this time her levels in her liver were dangerously high (over 1000…. ) so tomorrow we go to the vet to get an ultrasound of her liver/kidneys to check for masses.

I am trying to be calm, trying to be positive – hoping they find nothing and we can just put her back on the fortekor (or generic alternative) and it will bring them back down to good levels again.

She’s our First Fur Kid, and to lose her would be devastating on so many levels.

My favourite colour is October

Living in the Northern Hemisphere, I’ve come to appreciate the changing of the seasons in this Northerly way – October is the start of my favourite part of the year, this cooler part of the Wheel of Seasons. October is Autumn (I still call it that, and I don’t think I will ever call it “Fall” despite only hearing that from everyone here.) and it means turning leaves, quieting forests, crisp cold mornings and evenings, gathering animals, the last harvests. and the feeling that the veil is thinning.

Zoom

Soon, the rain will come, the dark skies and icy wind, muddy paths and wet shoes. The feeling of needing to be silent, thoughtful, ponderous, solitary. Warm clothes, warm drinks, hearty food. I know I will be baking more bread, making more soups and stews, and adding my home-grown dried herbs and spices to it all.

If last year here was anything to go by, it will not even be a pale cousin of what this time of year is like in Germany, but I’m happy just to be able to wear a jersey or coat outside. And boots. I can’t wait to wear my boots and thick socks and take the dogs into the deep forests, where it’s dark and quiet and you feel like you are being watched: Because you are!20150319_090516

On more mundane things, I have a few updates:

I’ve completed Part I of my school and now wait for them to unlock Part II. Not much more to do now – but thankfully, I get time added for this Part II, or I’d never get it done by the deadline from the previous Sections.

Sitting here at my desk without anything to do butwait, I find a kind of peace. A quiet before the storm. The gathering of strength and resolve before the last stretch. A day where I can do what I feel like, at my own pace, on my own time. No demands on me today. My time is my own. So I’m listening to some awesome music to get me in the October mood, and I think I might just go and bake a cake or some bread or something. Or maybe just a brew of oranges and cinnamon to make the house smell like magic.

Another update: We’ve been here for 1 year and 6 days, as of today. My birthday passed quietly. A weekday with the same old routine. It was perfect. Dogs and I discovered a new set of trails, and we’ve been enjoying the cooler mornings – which means longer walks for them. Beginning of November means I’ll have been away from home for 5 years now. December will mean 6 years married to this unique, interesting, adventurous, kind, keen, caring and comfortable man of mine.

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I miss home. When decisions are made and we settle somewhere, I will definitely be going home for a holiday on my own. My blood sings for my home turf, my home earth, my home hearth, my home heart. More lost beloved fur family, and more lost human family while I have been gone. I just hope my Mardi girl can hold out until I can see her again. I still ache when I think of not saying goodbye to my wee Macky boy. Knowing he, and the ones who went before, all lived long, happy lives, loved and spoiled and cared for, doesn’t make it any easier on my heart.

Macky
Macky

My beautiful Mardi Gras
My beautiful Mardi Gras

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other, little updates: Odin and Azzie and Gina have made some friends – most importantly is Maximus. He’s a 7 year old Husky mix and he’s absolutely beautiful and gentle and my dogs adore him. Odin also adores his owner, Ellie, and seems to be quite besotted with her. He gives her a full body waggle when he sees her – which is rare for people outside his “pack”, and he did this right from the first time he met her and Max at the dog park.  We also met 2 youngsters (today, actually) called Zeus and Athena, and they seem to get along well too.

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One Year Ago Today

One year ago, today, our Odin arrived at Frankfurt airport. 

He was incredibly timid and nervous and wide eyed and rather overwhelmed by everything happening around him – but he was gentle, and quite trusting and when he heard his nickname that my husband used constantly before he sent him on his way he relaxed just a smidgen.  It was our ONLY connection at that point and we both used it to the max.

My friend Ciara was there, every step, to help me stay calm and to help take care of Odin while I filled out paperwork and paid for things. She also helped me navigate the German autobahn, in my little orange car.

When we got home, she stayed with us to help with the introductions to the girls – she got scraped knees and torn leggings and a very bruised hand thanks to their enthusiasm.

Just a momentary growl from Odin made Gina back off a little bit (she can be a bit dominant when she meets new dogs) and after that it was wags and sniffing and Azzie and Odin clicked instantly. We then went for a little “bonding” walk with the new pack, before we took them upstairs to the apartment. Ciara was invaluable in all of this. I could NOT (quite literally) have done this on my own. It would have been a nightmare, logistically. I was also emotionally exhausted and physically too – it was a long drive there, long drive back and nerve-wracking waiting for him to be brought out to us, and wondering how he would react to me.

 

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A year later, he has come SUCH a long way. Physically (his leg is all healed, he’s over 20 kg/ 40 lbs heavier) and emotionally (he’s much braver all round, and he’s SLOWLY getting over his overreaction tendency and learning to trust me and respect me) he’s come leaps and bounds since that day. I could not see our life without him, now. He’s bonded completely with Azzie, despite her craziness (he’s not generally keen on over excited dogs, and she is very much easily over excited) and has become quite close to Gina (she’s aloof anyway – never really bonded with Azzie like she did with Odin) and enjoys her calm company. He trusts me and does a little more every day. He still sees my husband as his rescuer, and that means he tends to treat him like an “equal” more than the one in charge – but that’s fine as long as he remembers that _I_ am in charge.

My little hunter... Odin
My little hunter… Odin

He’s taught me a lot – about myself and about my relationship with my dogs – my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve taken steps to learn to meditate and control my temper and keep my energy in check – it seems to be helping.

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All in all – he’s an awesome Little Dude and I am incredibly glad that he is in my life – our lives.

 

Happy rescueversary, Odin.

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A house becomes a home

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.

home comforts - tea and shiny jewelry - chloe and isabel

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!

home based - Chloe and Isabel jewelry

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.

I think that’s it for an update for now!

I’ll be back with more!

Thanks for reading and STAY SHINY!

 

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!