333 - Moving on

I'm moving to a new blog. It's going to chronicle our adventures in mobile living... I've only written one post at this point, and I probably won't become too prolific until April when things start to really take off, BUT if you want to keep in touch, I'll be blogging at http://wheelpleadthefifth.blogspot.com/ from this point on.


332 - On Top of Old Smokey

Yesterday I drove out to Montgomery as I have done for the past few Saturdays, to help out at the wolf sanctuary. I've been worried all week about what Jean and the wolves would do if the wildfires get closer... I got downright upset as I got about 10 miles out from the sanctuary on CR105 and it was so smokey that it looked like fog... you could see where you were going, but the smoke hung thick and heavy, and I had to turn my a/c to recirculate because the smell was strong. I think the morning humidity helped the smoke hang in the air because by the time I left it had cleared off to some extent... but it looked dire.

I could tell that the wolves were edgy. Their sense of smell is so much keener than ours, keener even than a dog's. I read the other day that in a study, it took wolves ten minutes to identify trays with hidden food whereas it took dogs an hour. So imagine a barbecue smoker on steroids, and that's what it smelled like, times it by fifteen and that's what it smelled like to them. For all that, it was business as usual, cleaning the cages, going for walks, there was some tension but I think the sense of normalcy helped calm them.

Since my last post I have become a walker. I have walked Rafiki, Sable, Tala and Remus, or rather they have walked me. And I love it. I love any interaction I get.

Rafiki is shy. When she is willing to let you pet her she backs into a corner in the enclosure where she feels safe and she won't look you in the eyes at first, has to do with how she was treated at the pound. She reminds me of my cat Gracie... very loving but timid... wants to be loved but is afraid to trust anyone (hell, a few years ago that was me!). Rafiki, outside of the enclosure is a much more confident animal. She likes to walk fast, so I don't hold her back if I can help it - I walk fast too - just not that fast. When we get a certain distance ahead she will turn to find out where her penmate Romulus is and she will let him close the distance a little before she moves on, but she does like to be in front. After she looks back, she doesn't turn around and continue on, instead she walks in a circle, and Janet once said it looks like I had a show horse on a leash, because when Rafiki walks in a circle, I walk in a circle. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I think if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Rafiki - don't tell the others.

Sable is shy as well, but in a different way. She, like Rafiki, is a gorgeous white wolf-dog hybrid. Everyone always confuses the two, and when we're walking they will often call her Rafiki. Sable is curious and looks at me through the chain link fence, but if I move in any way she backs away. The first time I went to collar her she stood still and let me do it, everyone was amazed, and when we walked I could pet her as much as I wanted (and since it was a minor miracle I took advantage of it). Whenever Shae or Jesse reached over to try to pet her, she would put me in between herself and the human. The last two times we've walked she backs away from me when I try to collar her, but has no problem walking with me. She is the easiest to walk, she doesn't pull very much, and often walks just in front, or to the side, of me. When Sable comes up to me of her own accord, I will feel like I've made progress. With her it is baby steps.

Tala is an ambassador wolf who gets to go up to the benches and meet people. She and Remus were the first two that Mike and I had contact with when we went to visit the sanctuary in February. She's long and lean and gorgeous, mid-content wolf. She also likes to pull on walks and though lean, she's all muscle and determination. She's very friendly and loves attention. Between her and Remus, neither recognizes the other's dominance, so they often get into tussles and it sounds like they're killing each other. In reality I don't think they actually bite each other, they just jump around, growling and squealing at each other with their jaws open. When I went to pet Tala through the fence this weekend, Remus came up and stood in front of me, his body flat against the fence, growling low in his throat to tell her to back off, I belong to him. She didn't back off. Fighting ensued. So I backed away, feeling bad that I had caused the tussle in the first place.

Remus was the one I had a crush on in February. He's a gorgeous boy and he knows it. I think he's also trying to kill me... Last weekend after we walked, and after we went up to greet the people (something he apparently just started doing), he barreled into his enclosure and dove into the water tub, knocking my shoulder into a support post in the process. Ouch. This weekend he damn near got out of his enclosure as I was going in to collar him. Janet grabbed him by his coat, and I pinned him to the enclosure by bending my leg up under his neck. He is goodnatured... he didn't yip, growl, nip or anything, but the back of my thigh cramped up. He is like a horse... when we first start out he bounds out of the cage and I have to really work to hold him back. Like his brother Romulus, he pulls so hard on his chain that he's constantly panting and struggling to breathe. Last time the whole walk was like that, this time he eventually slowed down and we walked together. So much more pleasant. As we were heading back to the enclosures, a blackhawk helicopter flew overhead and he started whining, but as soon as I put my hand on his head he got quiet. He's a sweetheart sometimes. Then, for the second time, he took me straight to the benches and got tons of attention from everyone because, as I said... he's gorgeous. If he were a man, he'd be Billy Zane.

They all have their own unique personalities... Lakota (or Kotes as I have dubbed her) is a gorgeous white timber wolf, very submissive in her posture as she scent marks me through the fence. She makes a pass and I'll scratch, then she turns the other way and I scratch again. Around the third or fourth pass, her penmate Apache, a grey timber wolf decides that he is the dominant one and I should also scratch him. Whereas she squats down and rubs up and along the fence with her tail tucked, looking me directly in the eye, he walks past me, standing tall, sometimes knocking her out of the way. He looks me in the eye sometimes, but unless Kotes comes up to me, I don't exist.

Yoda and Mystery, the alphas... I don't think we really exist in their world. Mystery is 100% pure wolf who was caught in a trap that she escaped from and was then shot. She is cunning and aloof, loping around the cage in circles. It's her who always starts the howling. It's her that they believe to be Alpha of the 'pack'. Yoda is a big boy that turns into an excited puppy when he sees the leash coming his way, literally hopping from paw to paw. All the wolves and wolf-dogs go crazy when he comes out. Most of the time he shrugs it off. This weekend with the wildfires making everyone antsy, he growled low in his throat and was about to walk over and sort things out with Remus (although there were two fences between them). If he'd really wanted to go over there, I doubt we could have stopped him, but Jesse pulled on the leash and we took a different route... he calmed back down. He likes to sniff and mark by urinating on an object and then scratching the dirt to also mark the surrounding area with his scent. All the wolves that follow, sniff the same spots, mark the same spots. We walk them in a certain order: Duchess, Yoda, Romulus and Rafiki, Tracker and Sable, Koa, Remus and Tala, then Luke. We don't walk Lakota and Apache, Mystery, or Lola (we would walk her but they tell me she hasn't expressed an interest in going).

Luke and Lola are both white wolf dogs. Lola is people shy. Janet walks Luke, and Lola usually retreats to the dog house while we clean her cage. This weekend she stayed out, near the far edge of the enclosure and let us do our thing. That said, it was the end of the enclosure where we were, not the other end, so I felt like it was significant progress. I've been getting her to come up and sniff my hand through the cage, and I hope to be able to approach her someday, but it could be weeks or it could be months. I slowly moved closer to her, squatting down and holding my hand out to her, but I could see that she was on edge and ready to bolt at any moment so I didn't push. When Jesse walked up to her she ran away as I expected her to.

Duchess is the only one that scares me. I'm wary of some, completely relaxed around others... Duchess puts me on guard because I've seen her snap at someone and I've heard too many stories about her. She's the textbook lanky, lopey wolf. She can be very friendly and solicitous, but she's also bi-polar. I scratch her through the fence for a short period of time and I'm done, I'm afraid to hit a sore spot with her and make her mad (she has hot spots that they have been treating). Some people don't seem afraid of her at all... more power to them.

Romulus is a gentle giant. He's still a puppy so he's rambunctious sometimes, but he is a sweetheart. He's Mike's favorite, and like I said... hard for me to pick a favorite, especially now that I've been out there for a while, but I do love Romy. He and Remus are brothers, they're about two years old. Whereas Remus is thinner... wolf with Collie in him. Romulus is almost like a Saint Bernard-wolf mix. Mom came out a couple of weeks ago and she was nervous around all of them, but she was facinated by Romy, said he was the most beautiful. Romy is the yin to Rafiki's yang, she is calm and refined, he is a bull in a china shop, but he is incredibly sweet. When he gets frustrated, he snaps his jaws... he wouldn't bite anyone, to me, each snap is like he's cursing under his breath because he does it when he's being walked and not allowed to run free. He looks terrifying when they bring Yoda out, he stands up and shakes the fence, snarling and snapping his jaws because he wants to be Alpha, but to people he's never aggressive in the least.

Tracker is Sable's penmate, and the newest addition to the sanctuary. He's mostly dog. This weekend he was jumping like a coiled spring and someone joked that they should have named him Tigger because he got about three feet off the ground with each jump. He's adorable. He's another one that always gets to go up and meet people, and he loves to drink from the hose, be sprayed with the hose, and lay in his water tub (took a nap in it once). He has brought Sable out of her shell a bit. From what I understand, she was very protective of her previous penmate who recently died of old age, and now she is becoming much more playful and animated.

Lastly there is Koa, or Koa-bear as he is called. A 'ferocious' beast who would lick you to death if you let him. He is the gentlest of them all, but he is also 95% dog. Somehow he was labelled a wolf and once labelled, it stuck, so he ended up at the sanctuary. He's a big, burly ball of furry love. He and Duchess each have an enclosure to themselves, the rest are paired up. In his case it's because he's too submissive, so it's hard to put him with another wolf-dog. Life is good for Koa.

It's a long drive out there, the work is exhausting, but I love it. It's the best part of my week. Like my dad said, it's very peaceful out there. It's rewarding when the wolves accept you into their pack, and you see changes in their behavior toward you week by week as the trust between you builds. It's not for everyone, there have been people who showed up for a weekend and never came back... we pick up poop, we fill in holes, we scrub water tubs, we walk... but I am looking forward to the day when Mike and I open our sanctuary and are able to do it fulltime. We came up with a name: The Nashoba Refuge. We were originally going with Wolf Haven, but there was already a Wolfhaven. Both of us associate wolves with Native American Indians, so I looked up the word for wolf in Cherokee and there was no word as such, just symbols and a phonetic pronunciation, but the Chickasaw were also from Tennessee and their word for wolf was Nashoba. As soon as I found it, I knew that was our name. We both liked it, so that's what we chose. Both our heads are spinning with ideas and eagerness. It's going to take a while to get going, but we are determined... we know this is what we want to do, and volunteering has only strengthened my resolve.


330 - The Day that Sucked the Life Out of Me

Some days are easier than others. I never truly understood the sacrifices people make when they serve their country, or on the flip side, love someone who is serving their country. Sure I couldn't help but appreciate them and hope for their safety, but I never really grasped the depth of it until I became a part of it. It's not just the loneliness I feel when I'm at home, I also feel lonely when I'm out with friends... having dinner, going to weddings... I almost miss him more when other people are around. And though I don't worry much outwardly, inwardly there is always some concern for his safety. It's stressful... not always palpably stressful, but it is stressful.

I haven't heard from my husband in almost two days. It not only makes me miss him, I also can't help but worry. This base he's at has spotty internet access, and sometimes they maintain radio silence because someone has died or there is some kind of imminent threat, or sometimes they close the computers down for maintenance. I never know why, I just know that I feel like something important is missing. It's harder to feel connected.

I send Mike boxes... I have a box on the kitchen table pretty much all the time. I fill one up and another one is ready and waiting to take its place. I buy food, I send magazines, I put little knick-knacks in... it's the only way I can really show him that I care because he's not here to hug. I know he hates it there, everything familiar is here, everything he loves is here. Some days he's busy, other days he has nothing to do but play video games - and I know some of you are thinking you'd love to have a job like that... you wouldn't, trust me. I've had periods at my job (years ago) where I didn't have anything to do and they watched your internet usage like hawks... when you have nothing to do, you're not at home, you can't watch television, garden, get on the internet, take a walk - do any of the things you like to do - I don't know about you, but I get cabin fever. I also hate that I can't help him... I can try, but there's nothing I can really do.

In short, it sucks. I hate it. I'm ready for April to get here so that we're done with this. I'm ready to move forward with our life together. I'm like a kid waiting for my birthday party, only instead of two or three hours of purgatory, I have eight months of it.

Today I'm just exhausted from it and needed to get it out of my system. I keep thinking if I could find a job, or a way to take my current job with me to TN, I could at least get started on that part of our future and it would give me something to do. Mind you, I keep myself occupied, but I feel stagnate at the moment... I need some forward momentum. That, and houses seem to be selling pretty well in my neighborhood right now... not for the price I was hoping, but they're not sitting on the market like they were. There are 24 houses for sale (which is one less than it has been), and out of those, at least 5 had sales pending (versus none in months past).

Sorry about the glumness... I miss my boo. And the wildfires are also getting to me. I have loved ones in Austin, friends in Rusk, and wolves in Montgomery County... worried about them all. So far all are safe, but they need to get those fires under control... I'm also feeling a little more empathy toward Californians who seemingly deal with this threat all the time... Anyway, sending positive thoughts to all those who are fighting fires tonight.


329 - Zeroing in

After our honeymoon in Dubai, which I have dubbed 'northern hell', Mike and I flew to Tennessee to visit a few properties. We found an area that we like, about an hour and a half northeast of Nashville near a town called Red Boiling Springs. The people there were awesome, the land was breathtaking - and if you're ever in the area, you HAVE TO stay at this B&B... it reminded me of B&B's I have stayed at in Scotland, and the women who run the place are just the nicest people... but I also have to mention the food... OMG, they can cook!!! I never ate so well. And in the evening we did a steam bath, mineral bath, massage combo that was very relaxing.

After the trip to Tennessee, we drove down to Mississippi so Mike could meet my mom's side of the family. They loved him, especially my cousin Jeremy who told me that I got a good one. It's been a long, long time since I've been to MS without my parents. It was nice to go there and feel like an adult, and I got to see most of my family, my cousin Becky even drove in from Alabama.

So now that we've been to TN we're more determined than ever to find a home there. We have all kinds of ideas for the future, but the one we seem to be primarily focused on is opening a sanctuary for wolf hybrids. After our visit to St. Francis earlier this year, we have been especially drawn to the idea, although we've both loved wolves for a long time. Since I have limited experience with wolves I have decided to volunteer at St. Francis to learn as much as I can. Thankfully, after I sent an application and a letter explaining our intentions, they responded by telling me when to show up to get the best overview of what goes on, and even when they walk the wolves. I can't wait to see Remus again... he is such a sweet, beautiful boy.

All of the wolves were gorgeous, and the five that we interacted with were all like big, friendly dogs (which I know is not always going to be the case), but Remus was my favorite. So even though it's a looooooooooong drive, I'm looking forward to getting back out there.

I figure we would would start small, a couple of hybrids (was reading that unless you have a lot of time to spend with them, since they are pack animals, you should really pair them up so that they don't get depressed or isolate themselves). Then as we gain experience we can take on more, and perhaps even an occasional full-blood wolf that may have been injured or displaced. We'll see. I don't want to bite off more than we can chew.

So now I need to start working on a transition plan to get to TN. It will be a while before we find the land we want, but it will be easier to look around if I'm closer to it, then I can get a real feel for the area and really start to narrow things down. So I may start my job hunt in the near future, rent a house in an area near where we're looking, and then when Mike comes back we'll be ahead of the game. For sure we want to go back in December when he takes the rest of his leave and spend a few days looking around.

Anyway, that's the update for now. Dubai was nice, but I didn't love it. I loved spending time with my husband, and our hotel room was cool, and the food was good... but... I like pretty scenery and it was just a bunch of skyscrapers. It was hotter and more humid than it is in Houston - first time EVER that I've stepped off the plane coming back from vacation and found the weather to be a welcome change. Met some nice people there, met some real sleazy people there (at the souks they'd sell their mother for a durham if you'd buy her). The culture was just too far different from mine for me to really enjoy it. I'm more of a European tourist I think - which is good, because we're also going to Scotland! Woot! I didn't think I was going back for a long, long time, but Mike decided that Mikey needed to see some history and he knows how much I love it there so I'm sure that played a part in it, not to mention he's been wanting to go to Scotland and/or Ireland himself. In any case, I'm happy, and I probably made Craig's jaw drop when I told him that he can plan this tour, the only request I had was to go to Birnam for a little while, because that's my favorite spot. And... if we can ride the Hogwart's Express... that would be cool too. :)


328 - A day of 'hurry up and wait'

Took the day off work to get my passport updated and my driver's license renewed. In both cases I had to go down there in person because I was finally changing my name. Would have waited, but my license expires on my birthday so I had to renew it, and I felt like if my license was in my new name, my passport probably ought to be too, just to avoid problems.

The fact that I made an 'appointment' at the passport agency was misleading. Once I got there, I found that I still had to stand in line, show my documents to a clerk and check in, then I was issued a number and sat down with a very interesting variety of people, and waited to be called to another window where I would hand my documents to another clerk who would actually process my request. Both clerks scrutinized the calendar, you can only make an appointment if your travel date is in 14 days or less, so when I told them when I was travelling, I guess they thought they 'got' me... but alas, I was within the window. Ha! I win. By the end of next week I should have my new passport. So that took about an hour. Not too bad, but not what I expected. And they have no parking, you have to pay to park at a lot across the street... $10. I need to build a parking lot so I can charge exorbitant prices just so someone can park their own car and use a machine to pay me for the privilege.

Then I went to lunch with a couple of friends. We ate Greek food, then went to Spec's (liquor store) to look at cheese. I've never been to the downtown Spec's before. They claim that it is as big as a city block... that's a lotta liquor. But they also have food and other odds and ends. I ended up buying a creamy version of Limoncello, a weird soda, and a couple of things for Mike.

After that I went to the DPS. Holy hell... that was... no words to describe... I'm scarred from the experience. There were no spaces in the parking lot so people were parked all up and down the street.  That should have sent me running the other way, but I needed to get this done. So I parallel parked and walked inside. The line was to the door and going nowhere fast. I think it took about 15-20 mins just to get to through the first line of defense, a surly woman whose job it was to put people in their place. I sailed through, but an old woman behind me got some attitude.

So I got another number, and leaned against a wall until a seat became available. A small community formed around me, each of us in disbelief at how unorganized this operation seemed. My number was 084. They were calling 900's and 200's and 600's and 400's... seemed like there was no rhyme or reason to it. Then the surly woman whose job it was to put people in their place asked for everyone's attention: "Anyone here who doesn't have a number, all the support people who do not need to be here, need to leave. Go outside, go to your cars, but you cannot be in here. There are too many people in the building and the fire marshall will close us down." So a few (unhappy) people got up and went outside into the 97-degree heat. Except... there was one woman that surly woman noticed that didn't leave. So she confronted her and told her that her fifteen year old son would be fine on his own, that she has a son that age and she leaves him home alone and he is fine, and there are police officers in the building who keep an eye on things. The lady left, and took her two daughters with her, but she didn't go quietly. I kinda felt like it should have been surly woman's job to control the flow of traffic. If there were too many people in the building, she should have turned some of them away rather than handle it the way she did.

I was there for an hour and a half. And I left with a new restriction.... I have to wear my glasses when I drive. I already do it, but it wasn't mandatory. Now it is. Damn I'm old.

So I started my day at 9 am, made it to the passport agency by the skin of my teeth at 10 am, spent some time with friends, braved the DPS, and finally made it home around 6 pm. This was my 'day off' and I only enjoyed about an hour of it. Plus I didn't get to talk to Mike very much, so that sucked. Glad tomorrow is Saturday. Sort of.

Also, Cat Genie... about to shove it up someone's... yeah... so far it has gotten plugged up twice, which results in shit soup... very nasty, and something I really don't want to deal with. 90% of the time the cat's are pooping on the garage floor anyway. I'm dealing with more shit than I ever did when I was scooping out a litterbox. So after I came home to shit soup again today, and had to clean pee off the guest bathroom floor, I gave in. The litterbox is back in business. The cats win, Cat Genie sucks and I'm sorry I ever purchased it. In theory, it was great, and maybe for some people it actually works, but for me, it has been nothing but a hassle since day one.

So ending on a positive note... Red Riding Hood was a good movie. I wanted it to be, but I hadn't expected it to be. I was pleasantly surprised. Haven't run across too many good movies lately.


327 - Obsessed... again

I'm back in full-out couponing mode. It's addictive. I'm not one of those Extreme Couponers, although I watch them and dream of someday checking out for $0 (not buying quite so much stuff)... but... for the moment, I can work a deal at CVS and Walgreens, and maybe save about 30-60% on my groceries. I agree with the EC's... coupons = money.

This weekend I got several boxes of cereal, three bottles of Ragu, two bottles of mayo, a bottle of ranch dressing, some candy bars, mosquito towelettes, suntan lotion, razors, pain relievers, several air fresheners five 2-liters of Pepsi... and a whole bunch more... a trunk full of stuff... $230 retail value, for about $60 out of pocket, and I got about $30 back in Extra Care Bucks and Register Rewards to spend next week, plus there was a rebate on one of the items, plus a $10 gas card. Filling up for $23 felt good. When it all settles out, I effectively paid about $19 for the lot.

Then I heard that Sears has a promotion this week where if you buy $50 worth of men's apparel (happy father's day!), you get a $25 gift card back to spend next week (in store only... I had Mike about to order online before I read the fine print). I scanned the internet for printable coupons and found a 20% off coupon that happened to be good until 5 pm yesterday, so at 3 pm I hauled ass to the store and bought Mike four shirts and four pairs of shorts for $85 (retail value was probably over $350 before sales and coupons). What made the deal extra sweet was that we had gotten a free $50 gift card from Sears for writing to the corporate office to tell them about a shipping debauchle with a workbench we'd ordered. In the letter I explained the problem, but I also praised a very helpful associate... I try to be fair. They actually called me to follow up on the letter, and they offered the gift card even though they had already refunded our shipping costs. So Sears is on the good list - do business with them! Effectively spent about $40 out of pocket after taxes, and got $25 of that back in a gift card... happy... happy... happy...

I get all my deal scenarios from the links on my side bar. I use Southern Savers and My Dallas Mommy the most often, but I check around on the other sites because sometimes I find deals there they they both missed. Check the math though, sometimes prices vary.

Online, I use EvReward.com to see which rebate sites are giving the biggest percentage back, and then I use RetailMeNot.com to find coupon codes to stack on top of that. Save a lot of money that way. Sometimes you have to try a few codes out before you find one that works, but hell, if you save $10 it's worth a couple of minutes, is it not?


326 - Kristy for President

Taxes. They suck. I was thinking about how they could suck less - if I got to choose where they went. All those fluff programs? Gone. Everyone elects where to spend their taxes so only the programs we're interested in supporting continue to thrive. For example, I would choose to reinvest my taxes in NASA, and I would allocate some to disaster relief - DOMESTIC disaster relief (I'm not saying I wouldn't donate to the Red Cross for other countries, but it would be my choice and I wouldn't sink this country further into debt). I know there are more programs, but I don't have a list so those are just examples. And we have a flat rate tax, with a cap. Everyone pays the same percentage, but after a certain dollar amount that's it. Also - social security. I get to decide if I want to participate in a program that probably won't exist when I'm eligible to apply (at 70 if I want full benefits... which are then taxed AGAIN). Otherwise, the money remains in my check for me to spend as I choose, or I stick it into an IRA.

Deal with the illegal immigration issue - I would put at least half of my taxes toward building a huge wall with a moat and a 9-ft underground gate so they can't even tunnel under. BUT if they did... move the prisons to the border towns, so if they do manage to dig their way in, they land up in jail where they belong. I'm not against immigration, but there are people who do it legally, and there are people who start their life in this country by breaking the law. Also - English would be the national language. Driver's tests would not be in any language but English. Signs would not be in anything but English. If I moved to Germany I would learn to speak German. Don't come to my country and expect me to acquiesce to you.

Bikes on roads with a posted speed limit over 35 mph would require a registration tag, which would require a bicycle driver's license. That test would also be in English. The money raised from that would be used to build bicycle lanes to make travel safer for both cyclist and automobile. On roads with a posted speed limit over 35 mph in areas with a population over ? it would be illegal to ride a bicycle on a road without a bicycle lane. If the area isn't highly trafficked, fine, but I drive on roads where the traffic is constant, the speed limit is 50 mph, and people are trying to get around a bicyclist who is going 25 mph and obstructing the flow of traffic. If a car did that they'd get a ticket. This isn't just about me as the driver of an automobile, I'm trying to make it safer for everyone because I know several cyclists who have had more than one near miss.

Elected officials would be subject to the same rules as the rest of us. They don't vote themselves a pay raise - we do. If we are forced to be a part of a nationalized healthcare plan, they are forced to participate as well. The President doesn't get to fly everywhere, instead, he takes a bus, like a tour bus - and he has to pay for a portion of the gas, so he'll damn well care how much it costs. Elected officials must spend a certain number of days per year in their home state, so they don't lose touch with their consituents. And this guy gets cut the fuck off (he can borrow my gun if he needs to... sorry, but I just don't consider it a loss if he checks out).

It's just tiresome that government spending continues to spiral out of control, that we lose more and more of our freedoms while the fat cats get fatter, and aren't subject to the same rules. I know none of these ideas stand a chance in hell... but wouldn't it be nice if they did? What a wonderful world it would be...


Don't know what number this is because Blogger isn't cooperating

Feel like things are finally coming together, and it's been months since I've felt that way. The past few months have felt like utter chaos. With the IVF everything felt rushed and negative, for both of us. I had very few days that were completely stress free, but more often than not I cried. Hormones are a horrible thing when combined with stress. To be honest, at this point I am relieved. I think we were both soldiering on for the other person, but as Mike said, the scientific approach of IVF took all the fun out of it. Mike being gone also took the fun out of it (for both of us).

We've found some land that we like and it's enabled me to crunch numbers and figure out where we'll be in about a year from now. So far, so good. We're still going to keep looking, but it's hard to find what we want, where we want it, for the price we want to pay. At some point during Mike's 30-day break, I want to go visit these properties and if we like one of them well enough, we may decide to buy. I can only imagine how that will feel... to actually put money down on land... *shiver*

Our dream is very simple, but also very complicated, so I tend to think of it as 'simply complicated'. First we get the land. Then we build a house... in the meantime we are discussing features we want and trying to figure out how to build a home that is somewhat 'green' but doesn't cost a mint. After the house comes the garden. Then we focus on a garage to house our vehicles and machinery... with that much land we'll need a mower, possibly a tractor, an ATV to get around to the far reaches of the property, and 'we' already have a few vehicles; one of which is mine, hahaha. After the garage comes the barn, after the barn, the animals... some chickens, a miniature cow, a handful of goats, a couple of dogs, and a donkey (to protect the other animals). After the barn comes the greenhouse. We figure it will keep us pretty occupied, this dream of ours.

My big job now is... to find a job. The kicker with this dream is that all the areas that have the acreage we want are going to be, by nature, somewhat rural. That means the job market is going to be pretty limited, so either I find a job I can do from home, or I have a very long commute. If I could keep the job I have, but do it from home, that would be ideal... but I know I can't because my company isn't that progressive. The type of work I do could easily be done as a telecommute, but because of liability issues, or trust issues, or reasons I don't understand, they just don't let people work from home. To me it makes a lot of sense, they save on utilities, they save on office space, employees are happier, it helps traffic flow by getting people off the roads, we save on gas, we can cook our own meals at home if we want to so we're healthier (in theory)... it all seems win-win.

At this point it's been over twelve years since I last looked for a job. I think I started this job in February of 2001 but I'd have to look at my resume to verify that. So it's scary for me. I look at postings and they never seem to fit, and in the past I've never taken chances because I didn't really need another job, I was merely curious. Now I will need to branch out and explore, probably taking an entry level job just to get my foot in the door. I'm not against that as long as the paycut is reasonable, and Mike was very supportive of the idea. In some ways it's exciting... it's also terrifying.

I'm not even sure what different kinds of work there are for telecommuters. Right now I'm focusing my search on technical writing. I think I would like the work, I know someone who does it and it sounds interesting because you're always learning something new, but the methodology stays pretty much the same. Lord knows I like to write. Even if I'm not getting paid to write a novel, I'd still be getting paid to write, and that seems like a step in the right direction. The question is... can I find a job doing it? I have time to look. If I find one in the next couple of months, there's nothing stopping me from taking it. If it takes a few months, that's okay too (although I will start to get nervous at some point).

We've been doing research about farming and livestock. I found the coolest magazine... Urban Farm. I read one issue and learned so much that I subscribed and I can't wait for the next issue... too bad they only publish six times a year. I have also bought some pretty good books about how to improve soil and the easiest, most efficient ways to grow things. Mike has been doing all kinds of research too. There are some things that interest only me, some things that interest only him, and several things that both of us are interested in... it works. :)

So I'm very excited about our future. Is it time yet?.... How about now?... Now is it time?...


324 - Hmph

Either the rapture didn't happen yesterday, or - as I have suspected all along - people on the road are so evil that the rapture did happen and none of them left. Was really hoping for some elbow room out there...

My tomatoes are finally starting to put out. The bigger, more exotic tomatoes are taking their time, but the four that sprang up on their own are very prolific so far. At this point about ten tomatoes have ripened up. Only four survived. I ate the rest... *evil laugh* Can't wait to taste my first Cherokee Chocolate, Black Krim, and Blue tomatoes. Yum.

Starting to look at land in earnest. Mike and I are both eager to get started on the next chapter of our lives, it's just a matter of finding the right place. In some ways I would prefer to build, but it takes longer. And land without a home on it requires a larger down payment, has a shorter repayment term, and a higher interest rate. With a home we can go conventional... less than 5% APR for 30 years with a one downpayment. And we don't have to deal with the headaches of building a house. On the other hand, building a home gives you creative license, and that can be exciting. It just seems like it would be overwhelming, and in the meantime we'd have to live in a doublewide or something - which is fine, but it's an added expense. Don't know what's going to happen. We've seen some really nice properties, they're just exorbitantly priced or too far west. (I don't want to be ass to elbows with Mexico)

I took a couple of days off from work to get my head together and that really helped me. All of my friends (blog friends included) were wonderful, they gave me space but were there if I wanted to talk. Only one person hugged me, but she waited until I was ready (which I know was hard for her because she's the first to give you hugs when you have a bad day). During my time off I took care of some things I had been putting off... I slept in... basically took some me time and didn't push myself to do anything.

Even though he wasn't physically here, Mike was always there for me, and that helped me enormously. Poor thing, he is 9-1/2 hours ahead of me so sometimes I get a message from him and realize he's up at 3 or 4 in the morning. He has a way of calming me down and giving me perspective about things. We've figured out what our next steps are going to be, but I have realized that we were (okay, I was) too open with everyone about things, and for my own sake I have realized that I need to keep things to myself. So I can't tell you if we're going to try again, give up, or let nature take its course at this point. It's hard for me to keep secrets when they're my own secrets, so this is going to be a challenge for me, but I think it's for the best.

I'll leave you with good news. I bought one of these so I wouldn't have to scoop cat litter anymore. Healthier for me, healthier for the cats, no more scooping or lugging boxes of litter home from the store. I was happy, happy, happy...

It was such a pain in the ass because the tube where the wastes go down the drain would NOT fit down the laundry drain with my washer hose, and I don't have enough room in my bathroom to put it there (plus I like it being in the garage). My next door neighbor suggested clear, flexible plastic tubing, so when I finally got the right size, that worked great. Then it was a matter of getting the cats to use it. Took Gracie a few days, but now I usually see poop in the bowl. She makes me so proud. Daphne, on the other hand... she's special. I tossed one of the litter boxes so there was only one left, and I haven't scooped it in almost two weeks. I put it right next to the cat genie as if to say, 'nasty litterbox... clean litterbox... your choice' and she insisted on using the nasty litterbox. Finally, this morning I saw her poop in there with Gracie's. *dance of joy* A few more days of that and I can toss the other litterbox!!! Woot!!!


323 - Epic Fail

Remember how excited I was?

That made the fall all the more dramatic... No follicles. None. Had my camera ready to take pictures, felt like an ass. Estrogen rose a little then it actually dropped. So we're basically done with this cycle. I may try again... I don't know. It was a more difficult process than I thought it would be. A few highs, and way too many lows. Has made me feel pretty bad about myself as a woman actually. Like a failure. Does make me feel justified in my decision not to involve my parents though.

Mike and I are discussing our next steps, but I realized I told way too many people about this process and will now have to deal with sympathetic looks and unsolicited advice about what we should do now... and I really don't need that. I wish I had kept my mouth shut. If I sound bitter I'm sorry, I have had a rough couple of days. Stayed home from work to get my head on straight. Did better today, didn't feel like a zombie like I did from late Monday until I woke up this morning. My eyes aren't leaking anymore (seriously there's a difference between crying and suddenly realizing there are tears streaming down your face). May go in tomorrow. Don't know yet. Seriously debating it. Don't have vacation time so it eats into what we can save if I have to take leave without pay.

On the upside, this little episode proves that I really do have the best husband in the world. Being on different time schedules with intermittent internet access makes it hard, but he checked in on me anyway. He has said all the right things to make me feel better about this, and about going forward. Somehow I got extremely lucky and ended up with him. Can't wait until July when I can feel his arms around me again... miss that so much.

Anyway, probably won't be blogging for a while. Who knows, right now I don't know how I feel from one second to the next.