Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boxes and packing and too much stuff

We're nearing zero-hour for the big move. My goal is to have everything packed tonight, and spend tomorrow cleaning. Good lawd, but we have too much stuff! We're mailing out a few boxes of stuff before we leave, and have a bunch to be sent later. Thankfully my mom is willing to store the stuff we don't want sent out to us right away. I'd share a picture of my apartment, but it is a disaster area right now. Total chaos. As a side note we used CraigsList for the first time, and have actually managed to sell most of our furniture. Makes me happy, and having the extra cash will really help a lot. We're checking out of the apartment on Tuesday, and leaving for Chicago that day. Our flight for LAX leaves Wed. afternoon. Then, on Thursday, we leave for Honolulu.

My biggest stressor at the moment is traveling with the cats. The trial run with the kitty relaxer stuff did not go well at all - the cats were most assuredly not relaxed. Have an appointment with the vet tomorrow - hopefully he has some better kitty drugs.

Probably won't post again until we get to Honolulu...

Please wish us luck!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Lights Before Christmas

I love the Toledo Zoo - it is one of my favorite things about living in Northwest Ohio. The Toledo Zoo is one of the top ranked zoos in the country - and it does deserve that distinction. Every year the zoo holds "The Lights Before Christmas" - when they put up over 1 million lights all throughout the zoo property. I've been every year since I have been here, and it is a tradition I am sure to miss.

Jim and I decided to go to the zoo on Thursday, figuring that the ice storm wouldn't come through until later, and arrived at the zoo to discover we had the place practically to ourselves (we arrived at about 3:30). We had a chance to enjoy much of the zoo without actually seeing another person - it was amazing. We could actually hear the noises the animals were making (particularly the tiger, which "wuffed" at us as she/he walked past). Even as it started getting dark there weren't near the number of people there that the lights normally gather - good for us, if not so good for the zoo. It was so nice to walk around and take pictures, and not feel overcrowded.

Here are some pictures I took this past Thursday with my point-and-shoot Canon. I think they turned out pretty good, especially considering that I didn't have a tripod with me. Here's a link to the album:
Lights Before Christmas 2008

And a few of my favorite pictures:

From Lights Before Christmas 2008

From Lights Before Christmas 2008

From Lights Before Christmas 2008

From Lights Before Christmas 2008

From Lights Before Christmas 2008

From Lights Before Christmas 2008

From Lights Before Christmas 2008

From Lights Before Christmas 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My car will spend Christmas in Hawaii

We are using West Point Relocation to handle the transportation of our car from here in Northwest Ohio to Oahu. A car carrier came to pick up my car on December 2 (two days earlier than I expected!) and take it out to Long Beach, California, where it would be put on a ship bound for Honolulu. The whole process was supposed to take 3-4 weeks, and since I wanted my car there shortly after my arrival, it needed to leave the first week in December. I contacted West Point Relocation on Friday, and evidently my car has already begun its cruise to Oahu, so it will be in Honolulu in time for Christmas, with an expected arrival of Dec. 23, or Dec. 24. Mele Kalikimaka!

Here are a couple pictures from the day my car was picked up. we didn't stick around to see it drive away because it was darn cold - wind chill was about 2 below.

Oh - and those two kitties we rescued - they both have homes now! Two of Jim's fellow grad students are adopting them (one each). They are both boys, and seem to be pretty healthy so far.

From The Big Move

From The Big Move

From The Big Move

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Kitty Rescue times two!

From Kitty Rescue 2008

Yesterday was one of the coldest days of the year so far, preceded by one of the coldest nights. Two days ago, as I was sitting working on homework, I noticed a little black blur scurry across our neighbors porch. When I saw the blur again, I saw that it was a little kitten. I rushed out to try and catch it, but it was wild and ran. I kept my eyes out for it the rest of the evening, and tried one more time to catch it, but failed. Saturday morning Jim was working on the computer, heard crying, and saw that same black blur and rushed down to try to catch the little kitten. After 20 minutes and help from one of our neighbors he brought the cold, mewling little kitten into our apartment (much to the dismay of our resident cats, Jasmine and Hailey). We warmed him (her??? we didn't check) up, fed him and gave him some water. He was pretty feisty for a little guy! Our local humane society is full to overflowing (over 190 cats at last count), and couldn't take him, so we had to call animal control. Thankfully they don't euthanize adoptable animals! A BG city police officer came to pick up the kitten and take it to the shelter.

Jim and Calob went out later that afternoon to run some errands and when they came back they could hear another kitten crying. This one they found huddled and not moving in a flower bed - it didn't try to run at all, and I am not sure it could have. It was covered in snow and shivering so hard - enough to break your heart. I wrapped up the little kitten in a scrap of fleece blanket and held her until she warmed up and stopped shivering. It was so good to see the life come back into the sweet little kitty! We fed her and let her warm up completely before we called animal control (the police) to come and pick this one up. She relaxed enough to take a little nap in the blanket. Such a sweetie.

Our cats should be thankful that we're moving, otherwise we'd have had two more kittens added to our family this weekend!

These pictures are of the second kitten.

From Kitty Rescue 2008

From Kitty Rescue 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Less than 40 days before we move

With less than 40 days to go, the reality of our move to Oahu is starting to sink in. Not that we haven’t been working and planning for and rejoicing in our upcoming move, because we certainly have (and I think people are tired of hearing us talk about it). It is just hard to wrap my mind around the idea that 38 days from now I am going to be on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – an island that will be “home,” at least for a little while. The prospect of our move is both exciting and terrifying, and a little sad. It’s exciting because – well, it’s Hawaii! It’s terrifying because of just how far away Hawaii is from everything, and because I am going to be unemployed for who knows how long. And it’s a little sad because I am going to miss my friends and family. There will be no car trips to go visit friends and family; any trip home is going to be a major event (and majorly expensive, too).

Any time I get bummed out about leaving Ohio, all I have to do is think about this:

From Ohio

From Ohio

Snow! And it was this dark at 5pm, as I was leaving work. Nope - I won't miss the snow at all!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spartan Football!

This weekend Jim and I went up to visit my best friend, Karen and her husband Charlie, and we all went to the MSU vs. Purdue football game on Saturday, November 8. The day started out with some early tailgating (9am!), with yummy treats and mimosas (although hindsight would tell me that iced drinks are not all that refreshing when it is only 38 degrees out!). The game started at noon, and it was still only about 41 degrees. At least it didn't rain, even if it was overcast most of the time. MSU won - which made the day even better. It was our (Jim and I) first Big 10 game ('cause as poor grad students we can't imagine paying the outrageous price for Ohio State tickets), and we had a really good time, cold weather notwithstanding. After the game Karin and I went to one of my favorite Michigan places - Uncle John's Cider Mill (and winery). I picked up some cider (the best anywhere, hands-down), doughnuts, and two bottles of Uncle John's wine. Good times all around!

Here are some pictures of the game. The top picture is of Jim and I (looking like marshmallow people - some of that is all the extra layers we had on - I swear!), followed by a picture of Karin, Charlie and the people we tailgated with.

From Blog Photos

From Blog Photos

From Blog Photos

From Blog Photos

From Blog Photos

From Blog Photos

Monday, November 3, 2008

Change...a Democratic Rally

Jim and I went to our first political rally on Saturday evening. We went to see Sen. Joe Biden at a rally held on the BGSU campus here in Bowling Green, Ohio. It was an interesting experience. Biden is a pretty good speaker, actually. The news reports said that there were over 2,000 people there - which I think is pretty good for a college town on a Saturday night.
Here are a couple pictures from the event. The first photo is of the sniper/lookout on top of Williams Hall, where the history department is housed. The second is of some of the crowd, and the third is a slightly blurry photo of Biden speaking. It was difficult to get a good picture!

I don't know if I'll be able to sleep until I know the outcome of the election!

From Blog Photos

From Blog Photos

From Blog Photos

Thursday, October 30, 2008

lol cats for halloween

I always visit this site when I need a quick laugh - lots of funny cat and animal pictures. I can has cheezeburger?

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Monday, October 27, 2008

So...we move on to plan B - the post office

Well, we learned a couple weeks ago that we won't be reimbursed for moving expenses until Jim's first day at JPAC. We had been under the impression that we were going to be able to use military movers (or government-approved movers) and that cost would simply be deducted from the amount we are being granted for relocation. Not so. This would not be that big of a deal, except for the very high cost of shipping stuff from NW Ohio to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We got some quotes and they ranged from $12,000 to about $6,000, and that's with us leaving most of the big furniture behind. Well, as you can imagine, we don't have that kind of money available to us at the moment. All that we have saved up to this point has to get us an apartment (first months rent and deposit), all of our utilities set up, plus cover all of our bills for a good month (or more for me). So - no moving company for us! We are going to try to sell most of our furniture, store some of our books at my mom's, and then ship the rest via parcel post through the U.S. Post Office. Yep. That ought to be interesting. This is complicated by the fact that we won't have an actual address until after we leave. Not so much fun at all. Part of the price of living in paradise, I guess. We are going to ship my car out, however. That expence we can put on my credit card, and pay it off once we recieve the reimbursement check.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Our anniversary trip to the zoo

We couldn't make any big plans for our anniversary this year, so we decided to do our favorite local activities - go to the Toledo Zoo! It was a beautiful day - mid-70s (very unusual for northwest Ohio this time of year). We saw our favorite baby polar bears - they're getting so big! While not an exotic location to celebrate our anniversary, it was nice just to be together.

Here are some photos from our adventure at the Toledo Zoo

From Toledo Zoo Oct 08

From Toledo Zoo Oct 08

From Toledo Zoo Oct 08

From Toledo Zoo Oct 08

From Toledo Zoo Oct 08

From Toledo Zoo Oct 08

From Toledo Zoo Oct 08

From Toledo Zoo Oct 08

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Help our local humane society!

Click on the cat below and vote for the Wood County Humane Society in Bowling Green, Ohio! We adopted both of our cats from the WCHS. They take such good care of all of the animals there - but the $10,000 prize in this contest would really help them out! The contest is sponsored by Care2. Or vote for your own favorite animal shelter!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Let's Go Falcons!

Saturday was a beautiful day for football in NW Ohio. Sunny, and about 65 degrees, with a gentle breeze. Saturday was also BGSU's homecoming, so there was a lot of orange and brown to be seen around town. Jim and I decided that if we spent another fall here we would become season ticket holders, so we did - and this is our second BG home game of the season. Unfortunately, BGSU lost, to Eastern Michigan, for the first time in something like 8 years. I still maintain that a couple bad calls did us in! Here are a couple shots from the game. We lost by 3. At least my Buckeyes and the Colts managed to win this weekend - so it wasn't a total football washout.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I reciently celebrated my (ahem) 30th birthday, and in honor of the occasion we decided to get out of Dodge for the weekend. And to illustrate that I am totally ok with my geeky-ness and that I trust that you all will love me in spite of it, I will actually share with you what we did.

We went down to Dayton to the National Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB. The museum is huge, I mean really huge. Three giant hangers (something like 200,000 square feet each) and over 300 aircraft on display, plus lots of related artifacts. We spent almost 5 hours there and while we saw pretty much everything, we didn’t stop to read all the signs/exhibits, etc. I think it could be a couple day project to get through it all.

Sunday we drove over to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, which was fun, but we didn’t stay as long as we thought we might. Ren fairs are always interesting, and full of interesting characters.
Ike rudely interrupted our plans, so we left early. Whoever heard of a tropical storm in Ohio? Craziness.
Crazy weather notwithstanding, it was so nice to get out of town!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So...I lied

No pictures today because I forgot to bring my camera to the game on Saturday. Probably a good thing - the game started off well but ended poorly.

Jim and I are trying to make some plans for this weekend to celebrate my birthday, but the weather is teasing us. We may be home-bound after all.

Through the magic of facebook I was able to make contact with an Alma College alum who lives on Oahu. Sometimes it really is a small world!

Friday, September 5, 2008

My new camera baby

So I have been saving up the funds so that I could purchase a new point-and-shoot compact camera. My old Canon, as much as I loved it (and it is still working great), is only 3mp, and just not doing enough. And I love my super-zoom/SLR-wannabe Sony, but it's big and heavy, and I don't always want to lug the thing around with me, hence my search for the perfect compact camera.

After much research and debate I went with the Canon PowerShot SD870 IS. Love it! I love the wide angle lens, and it does superb in low-light situations with very little noise (so far). I've only had it for about a week, so I don't really have exciting pictures to share yet, but I will post some after this weekend.

September Already?

Yes, indeed it is. I can hardly believe that it is September (and that I will be 30 in a week)! School has started for both Jim and I. Jim is teaching two classes this semester, and I am taking two more grad classes for my MLIS degree.

I finally found a place for us to stay for a week after our arrival on Oahu. We are both hoping that it will only take us a week to find someplace to live... Anyway, since hotels on the island are very much not pet-friendly (and really expensive to boot) I decided that we needed to look at a vacation rental. After much searching for places that allow pets, we finally secured a nice condo in Waikiki through the website Vacation Rentals By Owner

Other than that, the move process has pretty much stalled out. We can't yet start a serious apartment search because we are so far out. And because Jim won't get information on approved moving companies until December (!), we are stuck as far as progress in that area as well.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The madness that is air travel

I am thankful on a regular basis for my mom , but I am even more thankful when I need to make travel arrangements. My mom is a travel agent, has been for longer than I've been around, and her expertise has saved me lots of headaches and lots of money. We bought our tickets last month, about 6 months prior to our departure, which seems to be pretty good timing, as flights were starting to fill up.

Because of the cats and air travel regulations for animals, we cannot take a direct flight to Honolulu. So we thought we would fly from Detroit to Los Angles, then LA to Honolulu. Well, that sounds like a reasonable plan, but with the crazy air fares it would cost us $600 more to leave from Detroit than from Chicago, so we're leaving from Chicago. I just hope the weather cooperates!

We have two big stresses right now - finding someplace to stay which will accept the cats once we get to Honolulu (harder than you might think), and finding someplace to live. At the moment we are trying to pick a side of the island to focus our searches. We've had advice from a couple locals that the leeward side is a fine place to live, but that the commute is just awful (worse than awful, actually), so we are thinking that we should perhaps focus on the windward side, or perhaps something closer to Honolulu. The disadvantage to the windward side is that rent prices are even higher for less space. Any comments you might have heard about the outrageous price of renting/home-ownership in Hawaii have not been exaggerated - they really are outrageous, and for properties which often aren't all that nice or spiffy, which is what is even more frustrating. I have been finding places for $1900 a month that I wouldn't pay $300 a month for out here. Sticker-shock, indeed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moving with Pets to Hawaii

Without a doubt, moving to Hawaii is quite the process. That process becomes ever more complicated when you involve animals. The state of Hawaii is rabies-free, and they intend to keep it that way. For this reason all animals must be quarantined before they are allowed to live with you on the island. You have an option to have your pets pre-quarantined prior to their arrival in the islands. This will involve blood tests and the microchipping of your pet at least 120 days prior to your arrival in Hawaii. For all the details visit the Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture pages about the whole process.

Because of the quarantine, pets can not be in the cabin with you on your flight to Hawaii. (An exception is made for assistance animals. Be assured that that will require even more paperwork.)

In addition to the quarantine, getting your pets to Hawaii on the airlines can also be a bit of an experience. Do make sure to make a reservation for your pet when you book your own airfare. Most airlines have limits to the number of animals they will carry (either in the cabin or checked) and you do not want to get to the airport and not have a spot on the plane for your pet. Our cats' reservations are about $100-$150 each, and we will pay that fee when we get to the airport. Be sure to read all the regulations on the airline's website, too - there might be rules that you wouldn't think about, especially regarding the size and type of carrier required. Also - do note that most (perhaps all) airlines will not accept pets for transport as checked cargo when ground temperatures are less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. For us, this means that our cats must travel in the cabin with us from Chicago to Los Angles, and then from LA to Honolulu they are checked. And yes, this will involve two different types of carriers.

For good general information on moving with pets (and the supplies to do so) visit these sites:
The Humane Society
How to Move With Your Pet
Establish a Routine for your Pets

My first blog post!

I have finally entered the world of blogging - a scary adventure for someone who has no Html skills! This blog will probably morph, change and have issues as I figure out what I am doing.