Happy New Years! (Eve)

Mark and Deb in the leavesIt’s the last day of the year already?  Well, here we are, 25 months into this adventure and it’s the end of 2008.

I know I’ve already reflected a bit on this already, but the year has flown by and has been as normal as it can be living abroad.  It’s been a year of settling into a routine for both of us working and living in England.   Mark commented recently, that it’s not camping anymore, we really live here.  This was after one of those moments where I look at him, and sounding genuinely surprised and in disbelief exclaim, “You know.  We live in England!” like it’s this brand new realization of someone who just walked off a plane.

There have been losses and gains this past year.  We lost our sweet Greenbean, which was difficult.  I miss my Bean and think of her everyday.  Her photos are everywhere, on my desktop background, in a locket around my neck and by my bedside.  She was our family.  She had a fantastic life, was well loved, and was so awesome she has turned two people into cat people.  In April, I gained a sister-in-law as my younger brother married a delightful woman.  Two of my cousins had babies this year and one also is newly married.  Our extended family is growing in leaps and bounds.

This has been a year of increased visitors, a pattern I imagine will ramp up in the coming third year of our residence here.  My parents and another brother visited in March, the first time trips abroad for all of them.  Friends visited us in May, September and October.  We made a second trip to Turkey for a holiday, which, I’m really digging the whole vacationing with friends idea.

So what will 2009 bring?  We’ll be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  Living abroad for a third year.  Where will we travel?  Who will visit us?  What will our jobs bring? How much more will our family and circle of friends grow?  2008 was a good year, 2009 is shaping up to be spectuclar already and we’re still a few hours away from it beginning!

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Thank You

Thank you to everyone who sent kind and supportive thoughts. It has meant a lot to me. Greenie was an exceptional kitty, able to fill a spot in so many hearts.

Greenbean on February 3, 2008, c/o Mark’s mom, How is this a photo of a sick Bean?


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GreenbeanToday I lost my baby, my best friend.

She was the runt of her litter, just a tiny little thing. Her mother, a stray named Psycho, had abandoned her litter at the house where my brother Joe and his friends lived. They cared for the kittens, feeding and raising them by hand. I think this made her personality what it was. As a very young kitten I adopted her. She would curl up under the blankets and sleep along side me in bed. I was so terrified I would squish this delicate creature.

She liked to be around people. Just hanging out, being a part of the conversation. I always would imagine her sitting there with a mini cup of coffee, her elbow leaning on a pillow in the corner nook of the couch. Everyone who crossed her path fell in love with her and adored her sweet and gentle nature.

Deb and GreenbeanAs a kitten, no roll of toilet paper or box of tissues were safe. She would unroll entire rolls and carefully pull one tissue out after another. The tissue habit continued as a way of getting attention or treats for years. She would look you straight in the eye and absently touch the tissues with her small oval paws of fuzz and slowly draw out the next kleenex.

She had eccentric tastes in treats. She would come running for chickpeas, squeak in the tiniest of voices asking so nicely for corn and would be ready to jump in the fridge when she heard me grind coffee beans, knowing a small dish of cream was in store for her.

Greenbean and Deb nappingAt night, after we would turn off the lights for the evening, she would leave my side and patrol the house. She almost never made a peep except for on these nightly rounds where we would hear her all through the house, into the basement, lightly meowing, “meow meow meow!” She would return to my side and sleep on my pillow. She would stretch out in her sleep, somehow managing to take up a third of the bed. I would have this wonderful warm ball of fuzz buzzing and purring in my face every night.

We needed to leave her behind when we moved to England. It was a difficult decision, but it was the right one. We missed her and thought about her every day. While we were away, she was off having wonderful new adventures of her own and making new friends.  She couldn’t have had a better life or have been more loved.

We are so lucky to have had her in our lives. I love you Bean and miss you.  You will always be in my heart and I’ll keep your spot warm on my pillow.

Greenbean 1997-2008


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Whirlwind Trip “Home”

The weeks home were, strange. Yes, it was wonderful to see our families and friends. Greenbean fell into all her usual habits and behaviors, sleeping on my pillow at night, although she does beg more than we had her trained. In the time we were home, we were busier than we ever were living there. We only ate two meals in the house, the rest involved eating out, whether with family, friends or coworkers. It was just so much. It didn’t feel like a vacation.

We both had an odd sense of home sickness. Home sick for England and the life and routines we’ve established there. I was made home sick for my little house seeing that it’s not being cared for the way I would care for it if I were there. Home sick for the U.S. as we start to dream about what’s next when we come back. This past year has flown by, making the coming year seem very short. Will we have enough time to do and see everything we want around England and other places in Europe?

All of a sudden it just seems like there is not enough time. We’ll have to make plans soon if we want see these things happen. I want to camp and hike in the Peak District and in Snowdonia, the Lake District and in Scotland. I want to dip my toes into the Atlantic Ocean from this side of the pond. I want to drive through the French countryside, have crepes at a cafe on the Champs E’lysee and float along the canals of Venice, or go to Tuscany to see the Palio di Siena (DiSiena is a name in my family tree). There is just so much.

There are more solid promises of visits from friends and family this coming year. Hopefully we’ll be able to combine some of the ideas of what we want to do with their visits.

For now, it feels so good to back to our little flat.

Expat Observations
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Adventures of Bean Through Photos

Sue says, I’ve uploaded heaps of photos of Bean taken over the past year by Mark’s mom. I uploaded them so I could make a new Bean calendar for 2008 (using QOOP) and I wanted to use new Bean adventure photos to fill it out. Here, Mark’s mom, a la ransom note style, tries to throw us off Bean’s trail so she can keep her all to herself. This just serves as proof that Greenie is the awesomest awesome that ever awesomed! We’ll be seeing her sooner than you know it!


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Greenbean’s Big Day Out

Greenbean in the daisiesWe planned on heading out to the Lake for a day a relaxing, swimming and general frivolity. I really didn’t like the idea of leaving Bean alone for a long day, with so little time left to our visit home. After some deliberation, we decided to pack her up and take her to the Lake with us. She’s been getting used to car rides and did well for most of the ride there. Although, she doesn’t seem to know how to signal for a pit stop.

My brother and his girlfriend as well as Mark’s mom and grandmother joined us on Bean’s Big Day Out ™. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Greenie stay awake for so many consecutive hours. So much to look at and smell! We joked as if we were talking about a young child, “She’s going to sleep well tonight!”


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Travel, coming home to England, miscellaneous notes

I sit here, in a rather lovely hotel room, in Didsbury, just outside of Manchester, about to head out to the Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden. (I should really add a “botanical garden” category with as many as I visit).

We’ve been busy, 10 days of Mark’s mom and grandmother visiting with us in the U.K. Followed by three, not the previously planned two, weeks in Pittsburgh, from landing Sunday morning in London to now being outside Manchester.

It is very surreal, coming “home” to England, but home it is, it *feels* like home.

I enjoyed being in our house again and being able to fuss with house and garden stuff. I planted and transplanted many more perennial flowering plants, the idea being the more I plant now, the more filled out and mature the garden will look when we actually return to living there. My brother is doing an excellent job taking care of the place (and our stuff!), I feel much more relaxed about this whole renting situation then I did when we first moved.

It was wonderful to visit with friends and family. I’ve never felt more popular! We should have left the country sooner! We were never this busy before we left, everyone wanted to make the most of the time we were there and it felt good to have a few weeks of being intensely social after a few months of (mostly) entertaining ourselves. Now we just need to see some follow through with all the promises of coming to visit!

Greenbean, Greenbean, Greenbean! We both loved having three weeks to spend with our kitty, Bean. Even on the first night we were home, she fell right back into all her old habits and routines. Nothing could make me feel more loved and missed than a buzzing Fuzzy Bean sleeping on my pillow next to me in the night like we never left her behind. *sniff* It will be months until we see her again. Mark’s mom is the best we could have hoped for in a foster home for Bean while we’re away. She sends us photos and shares little stories of her adventures with us almost daily. It’s so sweet and reassures us that she is being well cared for in our absence.

We came to the U.S. with three empty suitcases and managed to fill four, with a total weight of 208 lbs for the return trip home (with a weight limit of ~50lbs per bag, how did we know to buy just what we did :) Everything in the U.K. is extraordinarily expensive and I will never complain about prices of goods in the U.S. ever again. Hence, the orgy of spending for items we needed, which we bought in the U.S. and carted them back with us.

The coming weeks are promising to be interesting, with a week in Madrid and a week in Athens. I honestly do feel guilty that I get to explore and experience these places during the day while Mark is at work, knowing how much we enjoy each other’s company on adventures. But, such as the situation is, I’m making the most of it.

For now, I’m off to explore what Manchester has to offer, starting with the botanical garden.


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Home Sweet Home

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. Those ten days “on holiday” in Pittsburgh were a wonderful yet stressful ten days. Every moment, it seemed, someone wanted our attention. Ah, yes, I can finally say I can empathize with the whirring and constant motion of trips home that friends experience and stress about. Is this to become the norm of subsequent trips home? It was not a bad thing, no. I enjoyed seeing people again before we leave for good. It’s just this particular trip required us to give attention to turning over our home to the renter and squeezing in as much snuggly buzzing time with Greenbean as possible. It will be months until we can be with her again.

Mark and I rang in the New Year by revitalizing our very first tradition. Before we had the “cooking for friends and playing cards into the wee hours of the night, completely ignoring any clock” tradition. We had the “huge pile of sushi in front of a fire” tradition. Our first New Year’s together, we did not live in our house and the only fireplace accessible to us was Mark’s grandmothers. So we ordered a huge pile of sushi, drove into Johnstown, snuggled in front of the fire and rang in the new year.

We revisited this tradition on the very last night of being in our “home” with a couple of friends and a huge pile of sushi and a fire burning hot.

The first day of 2007 was spent playing tetris with our luggage and the contents therein, everything needed to fit, final house clean up, finding where Greenbean was hiding and stealing private cuddling moments to say goodbye, wishing I had just a moment alone on such a hectic morning, Mark’s mom and grandmother being there, my parents being there and my brother finishing moving himself in. He already had plans for entertaining that night, he could have at least waited for the couch to get cold :)

We arrived in England to our new home safe and sound, our bodies are back to being screwed up with the time zone switch again (it’s 4 am here and I’m wide awake… stupid body, thinking it’s only 11 pm).

I was telling Mark earlier, how this all still just does not feel real, like we’re just over here staying at a bed and breakfast. I imagine the reality will settle in once our belongings arrive and we’re unpacked making the new place look and feel more like home. Which, in theory, our belongings should arrive this weekend or the following week.

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“Home” for the Holidays

Well, we made it home. Thursday, all domestic flights out of Heathrow were canceled but the trans-Atlantic flights were still making it off the ground. Although, there was about an hour delay. We thought that getting out of England was going to be the hard part.

We landed and were going to have a very short lay over, almost not enough of a lay over. We arrived at our departing gate at Dulles in D.C. at 5:00 for our 5:30 flight. We get to the gate to find out it’s delayed until 6:40. All the flights had delays, one of United’s major hubs, Denver, was closed. Okay, we find a place to grab a snack and something to drink.

At 6:00, I can barely discern some announcement about our flight, we pay and leave the bar. On our way back to the gate, we see on the departure board that our flight has had a gate change, but is still delayed until 6:40. Just to be sure, Mark heads to the gate and I head to United information right behind us.

At information, I’m told the flight is still going out of the same gate and start heading toward said gate. Mark calls, “get to the gate as fast as you can, something is screwed up.” I run. I’m almost there when I see Mark running toward me, he snatches the tickets out of my hand and is heading back toward the United desk again.

Apparently, our flight left at 6:15 from the original gate, even though the departure board, in sight of the information desk, still had the flight listed at delayed until 6:41 with a gate change notice.

We were given standby tickets for the last flight, scheduled for a 9:30 departure, but delayed until 10:30. Odds were, we weren’t going to get on that flight.

In line behind us were a couple of other people in the same situation. We decided to all rent a car together and drive to Pittsburgh from D.C. and hit the road around 7:30. Linda, the one woman says in a sing song movie intro voice, “Four strangers meet at an airport and decide it’s a better idea to drive than wait out the next flight…”

This was the right decision. We arrived home late on Thursday night, without our luggage, which had been on the flight that left without us.

We arrived home to the house decorated for the holidays, groceries in the fridge, sheets freshly washed, the heat turned on and Greenbean waiting for us… All care of Mark’s mom. After such a long day of travel, we had been awake for almost 24 hours at this point, with the relief of being home again, I had a nice little cleansing cry full of home sickness.

It’s good to be home and it’s going to be strange to leave for good on the first.

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Greenbean in an exotic locale

I do miss my fuzzy bunny Bean terribly, but she is having her own adventures living somewhere new:
Greenie with ribbons


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Our home in England

Front of houseWe found a place to live in England!

It’s perfect, in a little town called Bourne End in Buckinghamshire (you can see Tolkien’s inspiration in place names everywhere you turn). We are a short walk to the shops and restaurants on the High Street, there are two bakeries, a local butcher, a fruit stand/plant nursery and the local grocery within a few minutes walk. Not too mention a farmer’s market a short distance down the road. I wonder if they have interesting yarn with that field full of sheep next to it?

Public FootpathThere are miles of hiking trails literally right outside our door, a public footpath, accessible through the gate in our backyard, connects with a system of trails, miles and miles of trails. Take one branch, and half a mile away is the Thames River Footpath, we could walk all the way into London along the River. Another branch sets you off into country side. I can’t wait to explore all that is outside my door!

Mark will have an even shorter commute to work than he has now, his office is a little over a mile away, he could walk to work. The house itself has two bedrooms, each with en-suite bathrooms, the kitchen has the cutest fridge and freezer built in under the counter top. There is a garage, essential from Mark’s perspective :) French doors lead to an enclosed backyard with patio from the dining area, adjacent to the living room with gas fire place. It comes furnished and includes a dishwasher and laundry, essential from my perspective :)

The only drawback, and it’s been a decision we’ve been fighting with,
is it’s a non-negotiable no pets flat. So we’ve come to the heart wrenching decision to not bring our little Bean. Since it looks like the job is going to involve a lot of travel, it wouldn’t be fair to her. As Mark put it, we don’t have the cat sitting infrastructure in place like we do here. Mark’s mom will be “adopting” her while we are away. I already am missing her terribly, she was the only reason I felt any sort of homesickness, I’m homesick for Greenbean already :( But it’s the right decision to make.

For now, I’m focusing on deciding what to bring into our new little home. I’m already planning and getting excited about decorating our new place. Since the colors are all creams and cobalt blues in the house, I’m going to roll with it, go for a modest pseudo-French Provincial look, to fit it’s cottage like feel. That will keep my mind off of missing Bean for a little while.

When are we actually moving? The place is ours as of December 1st. So as far as I can say, December is going to be a month of transition.

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Cute and Spitty: A Mouse’s Life

It is with great sadness that I must report, the Teeny mouse has passed. This hasn’t stopped Bean’s obsession with my office and the empty tank the mouse inhabited. My innocent little Bean is a killer.

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Bean’s infatuation

Greenbean is infatuated with her mouse and carrot slices are a big hit with the Teeny mouse:

She's been sitting here non stop Teeny mouse snacking on carrot

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There’s a Moose Loose in the Hoose!


It’s almost 5 in the morning, and there’s is far too much commotion going on in the house so I get up. Greenie is everywhere, I thought she was just super playful bringing more toy mice upstairs, one of her grey ones to go with the two white and one black already on the floor of my bedroom.

Since I was up, I went into the office to see if Mark was online. Greenie follows me in excitedly and drops something at my feet, the little gray mouse. This is not unusual for her to bring toys to us.

But this one started to run away!

Poor thing is very very spitty but unhurt. Bean is no killer :)

Spitty, but unharmed

At one point, she was on the bed very excited. She was trying to get the tiny mouse to me to show me.

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Taking your pet abroad, pt. 2

I just brought Greenbean back from the vet from what was a particularly traumatic visit, both for her and me, but more so for me.

She needed a blood sample drawn, for a rabies serum titer test to be sent to the single European Union approved lab in the U.S. She needs this in order to avoid any quarantine time once we move to England.

They take this sample from the jugular, they needed to shave her neck, they kept me in the room to help keep her calm, but they had a hard time accessing the vein (she is a little chunky and the fat gets in the way), they shaved a small part of her arm to try there unsuccessfully, the vet apologized profusely, it didn’t normally take this long to find a vein and draw a sample.

I had to leave the room, Greenie wasn’t hissing and she wasn’t growling the way she normally does when in distress, but she was whining and crying in a sickening way I’ve never heard her do. I started to feel nauseous and light headed (my poor baby!). I left the room and they were able to get the sample.

She’s fine now but my nerves are rattled. I need to wait until the sample is processed, if it’s not a good sample, she’ll have to go through this again.

Fortunately, the sample was good.

I had thought the vet would be responsible for the handling of the sample, packing and shipping it off to the aforementioned lab. The vet did pack it up in a cooler with ice. I then found out that I need to take care of shipping the sample off. It needs to be shipped overnight, I used FedEx, a little expensive when it’s a box mostly full of heavy ice packs.

Now to wait for the results.


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Taking your pet abroad, pt. 1

I have to say, it’s been frustrating finding the appropriate information about how to bring your pet along when moving abroad. My first instinct was to call Greenbean’s vet, hoping he would know about the process and if not, he could at least direct me to another vet or animal hospital that has dealt with this issue before. No such luck.

I spent days convinced that no one knew anything about anything. Even the phone number to the British embassy sent me on a nightmarish trip through fifty levels of phone menus only to find out there was no useful information provided.

Searching online elucidated important European specific information. Such as your pet needs to be micro chipped. Check, Greenie is chipped. However, there’s a problem. The chip she has, as does every other animal in the United States apparently, is not compatible with ISO microchip standards. ISO microchips are used by the rest of the world. I had a hell of a time finding where to get said chip.

She needs an updated rabies shot, that’s at least easy. However, she needs to have a blood sample drawn and tested for rabies titer levels at a European Union approved laboratory. Of which, as I found out after much blood, sweat and tears, there is only one lab in the States that is approved.

For the benefit of me and others who might find themselves in this predicament, here I’ll summarize in an easy to understand format and the order in which procedures need to be done with actual information.

1. ISO compatible tags can be purchased at: Crystal Tag. The tag gets mailed to you, sterile syringe and all, ready for your vet to inject to your pet.

2. When your pet is vaccinated for rabies, obtain an official veterinary certificate with date of administration and write the microchip ID number on this slip.

3. The Lab to which your vet needs to send the blood sample:

FAVN Rabies Laboratory
1800 Denison Avenue
Mosier Hall, Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506-5601
Tel: (+1) 785-532-4483/4455

Your pet can not enter an EU country until six months have passed from the blood test, obtain a copy of blood test results and write the microchip ID number on this slip.

4. To avoid a two day quarantine, your pet needs to be treated for worms and ticks, not less than 24 hours before and no more than 48 hours before you check-in with an approved transport company for the journey that will bring your pet into the UK. Obtain veterinary certification of worming and appropriate tick treatment and write the microchip ID number on this slip. If this is not done, then a two day quarantine for worming will be required upon entering the UK.

Next, getting her there. Taking small domestic pets as carry-on is not permitted on trans-Atlantic flights and she needs to arrive on an approved route.

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On Relocation

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” — Yogi Berra

Just when you think life is starting to get really interesting, it throws you an unexpected and exciting curve ball.

A number of weeks ago, Mark leaned over to me and asked, “You wouldn’t want to move to London, would you?” There was a position in his company in an office abroad that he thought he would be ideal for.

My immediate gut reaction was along the lines of, “Hell yes!” So he applied.

Well, now it’s official!
Mark and I will be moving to London!
This will happen in a few months and it will be for at least two years.

This is news I’ve been dying to share. For weeks now, nothing was at all officially official. It was a possibility out there, dangling in front of us. Now it is reality. We have a lot to think about and plan for.

We’ve had lots of talks lately about the logistics in the “if we do go” scenario: we will be taking Greenbean (although her vet has been slow on the uptake of all the info I fed to him, she can’t go until 6 months pass from her blood test), we plan on keeping our house here, my brother Steve will live in it with most of our house “stuff” left behind, all of the vehicles will be sold, the sailboat, the kayaks. Those sorts of things… we’re already mentally packing up the house.

During a late night walk around our little neighborhood, we were mulling over the reality of what the next few months are going to entail. Since we don’t know for sure the timeline of what’s going to happen, there’s a lot we need to accomplish in the few months between now and then.

We’re starting to make mental checklists of improvements we need to make on the house before someone else will be living in it and compiling the list of items to sell. This will be a good impetus for us, a sort of whole sale house cleaning, we have too many toys and too much stuff. Regardless of what the out come was going to be, it would still be a good idea to do these things even if we were to stay.

It’s a little funny too, when we think about our combined traveling abroad experience. I spent six weeks in Costa Rica for a graduate field course in tropical ecology and Mark two weeks in Japan for work. I have lived in Pittsburgh my entire life, most of my extended family lives in Allegheny County and similarly for Mark with Johnstown. To think that the first major move we make… is to another country.

The only thing that makes me a little sad with this move is that I finally feel like I’ve put myself on the right path with graduate school and a potential relevant and interesting job (with the DCNR) on the horizon. I was excited to be a part of a program with a heavy focus on local flora and fauna. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do there. Advice to ex-pat trailing spouses include: get lots of hobbies or volunteer. Perhaps volunteering at a museum abroad is in my future.

This is an opportunity of a lifetime that we can’t pass up. I will drop everything, follow Mark and become an ex-pat and travel and see as much of Europe as possible adding many new chapters to our adventures together (And continue blogging from across the pond!)

Eeee! We’re moving to London!!

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X-mas Redux

Christmas Eve was spent with my family, as is the tradition. Tons of good food, chatting, exchanging presents and watching the nephews run around being cute. X-mas day was excellent, as per usual with the Denovich’s. Dinner was made and hosted by Mark’s mom, we visited a couple of other relatives that we only see once a year and showed up at his aunt Janet’s at 10:30pm ready to party, we didn’t get home until four in the morning. The men folk played pool for quarters in the basement while the women gossip and play scrabble. For the seventh consecutive year I dominated the scrabble games. I’ve won every single game, literally, since I’ve started going. It’s starting to encourage better playing from some family, as I am challenging competition. They’re starting to have better strategy and improved vocabulary *just* to try to beat me :)

It was great having friends staying at our place for the few days before and after xmas. They say we made it the *best* *christmas* *ever* since they didn’t have to stay with family the entire time. The highlight was that they brought their tiny 5 lb Pomeranian puppy Tequila with them, Greenbean decidedly did not like this visitor in her territory, but provided much hilarity and entertainment. Tequila could almost make me a tiny dog person. Almost.

I also must mention the “Christmas Miracle” which my friend and I botched for Mark. We wanted to surprise Mark with putting the winter tires on the car, innocent enough, I know, but some how we managed to end up with a half a dozen spinning loose studs, meaning way more work for Mark :/

Other than that it’s been low key and relaxing.

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Heading Home from Florida

We packed up our luggage and went to the cute Jewish French cafe for breakfast. We were entertained by an Australian pair of older women who did not realize it was a kosher cafe, “You only have imitation bacon? Is anything real on this menu?” the waiter replied in stride but clearly amused by the pair, “Everything is imitation, it’s all fake, it’s all only a dream!”

The flight home was uneventful, but the drive home from the airport was eventful. The roads were impossibly icy, it wasn’t that cold out and not that much new snow had fallen, but the roads were like glass. This combined with the fact that the Steeler game had just let the flood gates of traffic loose and we needed to make a brief side trip to pick up Greenbean, it ended up taking us 2.5 hours to get home from the airport.

We love to travel and explore, but there is nothing like coming home after a trip to your own bed and familiar surroundings. Even if it’s covered in snow.

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Vet trauma

I don’t know why I dragged my feet for so long finding a new vet for Greenbean. There are at least half a dozen within a mile of our home, I choose the one that has been in the neighborhood for over twenty years. The animal hospital was small and clean and the doctor and assistants were pleasant, and my questions and concerns were addressed. I’m glad to have found a place in the community, to have a “family vet.”

She was so well behaved during her exam, Greenie is a mellow rag doll of a cat, but I was still impressed with how calm she remained with a stranger poking and prodding. She weighed in at 14.4 lbs, which I found shocking, since I was expecting her to hit at least 16 lbs. It’s proof that she is smaller than she looks, that it really is a bunch of skin and hair giving her a more bulky appearance.

The ease of the visit ended abruptly when the large gauge needle came out, the one they used to insert the microchip. She hissed and cried and squirmed a bit too much, “we usually have no problems inserting chips in cats, we’re going to sedate her to make it easier on her,” the doctor informed me. Her cries were heart wrenching, what was I subjecting my sweet baby to!

Greenbean is an indoor cat and she prefers to lounge around the house in the nude (i.e. no collar). On rare occasion she will slip out without any regard to let us know she is going, usually because the basement door or garage was left open. She never wonders far, generally we will quickly find her sitting in the grass of the back yard or warming herself in the sun on the driveway. She knows she’s not allowed outside, a sharp, “Greenbean!” and she immediately scurries on her belly back into the house.

She did slip out last weekend, I panicked like I usually do when she is not in the house and this was what prompted a vet visit, so she can be micro-chipped in case she gets lost without a collar, I know all the shelters scan for them.

She’s a little groggy from the sedation and extra cuddly, she will be showered with treats later today once she’s had time to recover.

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R. I. P. Beetlely Beetle

The Beetlely Beetle (summer 2000-January 2005)

Rest in Peace little Beetlely Beetle, our little Tenebrionid Darkling Beetle, you were a good beetle who traveled many miles from your home, who had many adventures escaping from your habitat in our old apartment for days at a time, and disappearing in our current home for over a month only to miraculously reappear in our china cabinet. Who knows how old you really were when we found you on that mountain years ago. You loved nibbling on your cheerios and banana chips, but most of all you loved chewing on pine cones. It’s amazing Greenbean didn’t try to eat you. You will be missed.

Musings & adventures

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Easily amused with silly putty

An extra special package of three varieties of silly putty arrived in the mail today from Putty World: black magnetic putty, heat sensitive putty that changes color with temperature and glow in the dark putty.

Greenbean is especially fascinated with this stuff. Gingerly reaching out to touch it in her careful and gentle way. Although, she doesn’t know quite what to make of the glow in the dark putty. She looked adorable with the soft glow lighting up her face in the dark as she approached to investigate.

The putty was bright enough to completely disrupt our night vision. After a few moments of having it out of sight, we started noticing tiny, tiny flecks glowing all over the place, on a shoulder, on the pillow. Mark turned to me in the dark and I couldn’t stop laughing, he made the mistake of putting the putty close to his nose. The short scruffy hairs where he needs to shave above his lip were speckled with minute pieces of glowing putty. So small that they were more easily seen out of the corner of the eye.

I looked into the history of this strange substance. The putty was an invention accident that was produced during experiments attempting to create synthetic rubber during the 1940’s. James Wright had combined boric acid and silicone oil, resulting in the odd glob of goo. The substance was tested by Wright and a number of other scientists to see if it had the properties to replace rubber. Even though it showed promise, having a much higher melting point and resistance to mold, It was far too stretchy and bouncy to serve any practicle or industrial use.

Eventually the putty was passed along, from scientist to scientist, to scientist family and friends, until it reached the hands of a toy store owner who then marketed the substance as ‘bouncing putty.’ In 1950 the flopped toy was scooped by another individual who sold it as the ‘silly putty’ (marked as “the real solid liquid”) we know and love today. It was discovered that the putty could copy images out of comics, although since there has been a change in the printing process, this can’t be done any more.

Composition of Silly Putty:

65% – Dimethyl Siloxane, hydroxy-terminated polymers with boric acid
17% – Silica, quartz crystalline
9% – Thixotrol ST
4% – Polydimethylsiloxane
1% – Decamethyl cyclopentasiloxane
1% – Glycerine
1% – Titanium Dioxide

Musings & adventures

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In the interest of science or rather… entertainment

I went outside this evening, admiring the fireflies, watching the fleeting pale blink of a slow low flying tiny species, noting the long swooping blink of a mid-level species and those high in the giant oak out front. Excited to see what looked like a synchronized blink across the whole lawn of another species. All the while seeing, for the first time really observing, the complex strata and strategies of the differing species.

There are about 33 different species of Lampyridae in our state, each with its own species specific flash pattern. The Lampyridae of our state is a focus of one of the projects at work this summer, one steeped in controversy. Our state insect is a firefly, but the controversy lies in that the species listed as such isn’t known to actually occur here. The study is a bit more involved than just going out and looking for the beast, but it certainly makes for an interesting story to instigate a research project.

I was struck with a brilliant idea as I watched out on the lawn. I should collect some and bring them inside to set them free for Greenbean to play with! There are now at least a dozen floating and flashing in our darkened living room.

What a spoiled kitty she is, we bring her live sparkling toys to get excited about. She is very happy, buzzing all around me, tail and eyes attentive and perked looking around for the next bug. Not that she knows what to do with one once she catches up to it, she is a naive cute indoor cat.

And fireflies are tricky little bastards to catch! How did we used to do it with such ease when we were kids, quickly filling a jar. I got serious tonight. I brought out my insect collecting net and made short work of bringing them inside. I’ll need to hone my firefly capturing technique for work :)

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Musings & adventures
My life with bugs

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Greenbean is a nut

I have never witnessed it before, but I know everytime Greenbean gets any new toy mice with fake tails on them, within minutes she eats all of the tails. This is less true with the toy mice with the fuzzy tails, but they are known to have disappeared as well. I observed this behavior for the first time tonight. She grabs hold of her victim with her paws and chews through the side of her mouth as if on chewing gum until the tail is removed. As far as I can tell the rest is swallowed whole.

My little Bean is insane.

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Come back to bed Bean!

We thought we had fixed Greenbean’s refusal to sleep in our new bed, but we were wrong. Last weekend when Mark’s mom was staying with us, she used the guest bedroom where Greenie has been sleeping since the new bed arrived. However, she won’t sleep in there with a stranger. For the night Sue was here and the following two nights after she left, Bean assumed her usual position at the foot of our bed and resumed all the elements of her usual routine.

But now she is back to sleeping elsewhere in the house. I don’t think she’s been on the guest bed, I think she’s squirreling away on her favorite chair in the living room.

Hrm. How to fix this? I miss my little Bean at my feet or beside me when I sleep.

Musings & adventures

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