Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Visitors au boulot

Last week we had some visitors at my work.  As I was walking by the windows on my floor, heading to the kitchen to grab my lunch, I looked down and saw three deer emerging from the trees.

View of the deer from my floor.  and yes, that is a mini railroad track you see running through the middle of the picture...we have a mini train on our property that circles around the building and parking lot and goes off into the woods.  Our company uses it for family events and charity fundraisers.

 As I stood there watching a fourth deer appeared and they all headed off through the snow, across my company's property and into the trees on the other side of our lot.

 
And the fourth deer appears (though in this picture you can barely see the first one leading the pack near the railroad tracks at the top of the photo.

It certainly is nice to see so much wildlife, even at work.  It's something we definitely didn't get to enjoy in Paris, and probably won't in Bordeaux either, unless we work outside of the city.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Moving right along

Well, plans are moving forward for the move, despite the many complications, modifications and uncontrollable roadblocks thrown in our way recently. Flights have officially been purchased, lots of money was spent over the weekend and there is no going back now.

The official date of departure…well, that’s more complicated to explain but Lionel will be leaving the US on May 14 and I will be leaving on May 15. A week earlier than mentioned in my last move-related post, but right about the time that we had originally thought to leave.

There have also been a lot of changes recently in our plans due in part to unforeseen circumstances and in part to deliberate decisions. Lionel’s parents will no longer be coming out to the US, which means we will not be running around like crazy people trying to find time to take them to Toronto/Niagara Falls, NYC and Washington D.C. This also means that they will not be flying Rasteau back for us, hence the decision for Lionel and I to take different flights. He will be leaving a day earlier with Rasteau on the shortest flight we could get to try to make it as easy as possible on the little furball. Of course this flight is with Air France and therefore very expensive. So I am leaving the following day on a grueling 21.5 hour trip to Bordeaux, but a much, much cheaper ticket at half the cost. He had volunteered to take the longer flight, but since the Air France flight prices increased the following day and we wanted Lionel to leave first, we had to change that plan and I get to enjoy a nice 9.5 hour layover in the Madrid airport. However, he has to deal with the stress of travelling with the cat, so I guess it’s a fair tradeoff.

Now we just need to call the airline to make Rasteau’s reservation and start figuring out all of the other details of this move including luggage, packing, shipping, selling cars, cancelling various services here, transferring money, my visa, setting up different services there, getting furniture in France, leaving jobs, finding jobs, etc, etc, etc. The list is too long and it makes my head hurt. Not to mention it stresses me out, especially the finding jobs part and our long term financial future. 

So instead I have been focusing most of my time and energy on planning the road trip we have decided to splurge on (and by splurge I mean stick to a VERY strict budget with lots of camping and cheap motels) before we leave the US. Because planning vacations and spending money is a lot more fun than worrying about our long-term financial future/retirement and looking for jobs, and after a year straight without a real vacation, I am desperately in need of one. Not to mention the fact that I can feel that travel bug biting and I know I need to go somewhere new and exciting soon before I go stir crazy. This should also help to keep me under control for a few months in France while we try to find jobs and can’t really travel (hopefully it will only be a few months).

You might be wondering what we plan to do/see on this road trip. Well, after two days of research and planning it looks like it is going to be a 12 day road trip west to visit as many National Parks as possible and a few cities along the way. Currently on the itinerary are Arches National Park, Utah; Canyonlands National Park, Utah; Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado; Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona; Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; and Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. We also plan to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico and hope to spend a little time in Denver, Colorado. Our current plans also take us along a large portion of the historic Route 66 through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, so that should be interesting. Plans are still in the works but I’m hoping to have all the hotels and campgrounds reserved by the end of February and a pretty solid plan of what we are going to see and do and when.

On top of all that poor little Rasteau isn't feeling well and had to go to the vet today.  When Lionel got up this morning he noticed that Rasteau's entire nose and forehead area was very swollen and it turns out he has a huge abscess on his forehead.  He's been miserable all day and the vet gave him a shot, prescribed him some medicine and told Lionel that the poor little guy is probably suffering from a pretty bad headache because of the location and size of the abscess.  So Rasteau hasn't eaten, won't drink, and is only moving from his comfortable bed on our armoire to go to the litter box.  He's slept almost all day and he just looks miserable.  I didn't find out about any of this until I took my lunch at work, but Lionel managed to handle the vet and everything just fine by himself.  Here's the picture he texted me today of the poor little guy:
Little Rasteau suffering with a very swollen face

Sorry this post is kinda all over the place, but that's pretty much it for the moment!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Too gâté

I figure it's time for a little change from all the posts about the move, and I realized Rasteau hasn't made an appearance on my blog in quite a while.  So, why not do a little post about my precious, spoiled little furball?

I never mentioned it before, but Rasteau is a very finicky drinker.  In France he would refuse to drink water out of his bowl, or any bowl placed on the floor for that matter.  Sometimes we could get him to drink out of one of our bowls if set in the proper location, but this was really hit or miss.  The only guaranteed way to get him to drink was in the bathtub, and only with fresh running water.  It couldn't be running too strongly otherwise his little paws would get wet so it would have to be a little trickle, just enough to pool up a little near the open drain so he could drink.

Then we moved to the US and were at my parents' house and he would only drink his water in the bathroom sink, running into Lionel's cupped hands.  He still wouldn't touch water in a bowl on the floor.

When we moved to our apartment he never seemed to find a way that he was happy to drink water and then one day I came home and caught him doing this:

Rasteau's furry butt sticking out of the toilet.

Apparently he had been drinking his water out of the toilet rather than the nice, fresh, clean water we would put in a bowl for him.  We ended up buying him a kitty fountain and keeping the toilet seat down at all times.  This worked for a while until the fountain broke and Lionel finally managed to coax him into drinking out of the bathroom sink.

But now we've reached an entirely new level of spoiled.  He likes to sleep on blankets on top of our armoire when we go to bed, and Lionel has gotten him into the habit of being served a little cup of water in bed every night.  It's now his favorite way to drink water.

Rasteau being served his water before bed

So now, every night, we have to be sure to get him a fresh cup of water for bed.  It's the only way to ensure that he actually drinks any water.  And then last night we reached the ultimate level of laziness when he wouldn't even get up to drink, but just enjoyed his water laying down, nice and relaxed!

 
  Rasteau being so lazy he won't even get up to drink anymore...just lounging on his bed and drinking out of his cup.

I think I might have le chat le plus gâté in the world!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

West Virginia

We had a very interesting trip to West Virginia over the weekend.  For the most part we had fun, but there were some less than wonderful moment as well.

The Good:
  • Spending time with old friends and making new ones.
  • The incredible cabin that we rented, lost in the middle of the woods with an incredible view over the valley and mountains.
  • The food and drink, we ate and drank like champs from homemade lasagne to filet mignon to venison chili, all washed down by some red wine.
  • The hot tub, such a nice way to spend a chilly winter evening.
  • The jacuzzi bathtub in our bathroom.
  • The beautiful winter scenery complete with at least 1 foot (30 centimeters) of snow, snow covered pines, mountains, valleys, babbling brooks, frozen lakes and various wildlife.
  • The rest and relaxation away from everything, even internet, with plenty of time to just relax and destress.
The Bad:
  • Getting stuck at 2am on Thursday night on our drive there on the side of a snow covered mountain  because they got an unexpected snowstorm and the roads hadn't been cleaned yet because it was the middle of the night.  They ended up having 10-11 inches dumped on them that night and the weather predictions had only been for light flurries!  Luckily, just as we were resigning ourselves to the fact that we would be spending the night on the side of that curvy mountain road, along with 5 other cars, a plow truck showed up and saved us!  The 6 hour trip ended up taking us about 10 hours because of the snow.
  • Not being able to use our car half the weekend because we had to park it at the rental agency.  The gravel road out to the secluded cabin was only really passable for cars with four-wheel drive or chains when covered in that much snow...not so much for little Ford Fiestas.  We had to rely on friends for transportation to and from our car most of the weekend.
  • Getting sick with some horrible stomach bug Sunday.  Lionel had to drive the whole way home while I suffered and threw up into trash bags, with an increasing fever, aches and pains and chills.  I ended up having to call in sick for work on Monday too because I was in horrible shape and very reluctantly dragged my miserable self in today, still not feeling so hot.  I've barely eaten for 3 days and everyone says I'm looking very pale, but I'm finally starting to feel better, so I'm hoping tomorrow will be a good day.  It took us 8 hours to get home because of my sickness, but we still made it back in time for me to fall asleep in front of the TV watching the second half of the Super Bowl.
And now for some pictures:

 the main living space inside the cabin, looking out over the valley and mountains

the view from the cabin

view over the valley

the "Village" at the top of Snowshoe Mountain

out exploring snow covered West Virginia

the view from the top of Snowshoe Mountain over the snow covered landscape and a frozen lake

a real winter wonderland

freezing our butts off at the top of the mountain

our friends, the deer, that we encountered on our hike down the mountain

wintery landscape

 out in the snow covered forest