Category Archives: pets

Through the Glass…………….

As soon as we knew we were moving to India, we made plans to take our cats with us.

Unfortunately, our one cat is diabetic and it really didn’t make sense for her to be on a plane for over 24 hours without access to water. I wrote a very fun resume for her when we were trying to find a place for her to live. If you want a chuckle, you can read it here. A lovely family adopted her while we were gone and spoiled her rotten.

We decided it would be very helpful for the kids to have their other two beloved furry siblings with them – and, not for nothing, someone else was going to be cleaning out the litter and wiping up the inevitable furball throw-up. Yeah. In case it’s not painfully obvious why that was awesome, you can catch up here.

Our first attempt to get the cats to India was a colossal fail. I do not heart United Airlines and if you want to be mad at them too, you can read about that here.

Now that you are all caught up on the history, let’s get back to the story.

Eventually, the cats made it all the way across that big ocean. Alive and well and very confused – kind of like the rest of us.

They settled in quickly and were very well cared for.

But our staffs initial reaction to them was hysterical. They could not believe that we had cats as pets. I should explain that cats aren’t really kept as pets in India. There are tons of stray cats on the streets but it is very rare for someone to actually bring them into their home, feed them, care for them, and make them a part of the family. To love them.

I guess it’s hard to worry about stray animals too much when there are so many stray humans without food and shelter.

Someone also told me that Indians consider cats to be bad luck. I cannot verify that, but it might be true.

Cats are so rare as pets that India does not even have a manufacturer of cat food – at least not one that delivers Indian cat food to any of the pet stores in Delhi –  there may not be an Indian dog food manufacturer either because most dogs are simply given table scraps. The only cat food I could find was imported and ridiculously expensive.

Good thing we brought, not one but two, very large cats who really like to eat.

When we first moved to India and lived in an apartment, the cats very rarely saw the light of day. But then number one hubby found us a house and the cats had access to glass doors at ground level. (We did not feel comfortable letting them actually go outside because there were hawks in the area and tons of stray dogs and cats.) Our cats seemed happy enough to just look outside and they immediately discovered that they were not alone in the world. That other cats lived just beyond that glass horizon.

The difference between our American house cats and the Indian stray cats was nothing short of amazing.

Ours – big and fat and shiny – not a scratch on them. Loved and cuddled. Not afraid of humans in the least. Not particularly fond of every single human, but not one tinsy tiny bit afraid of them. No front claws.

The strays – little bitty – boney – ears ripped – dusty and dull fur with patches missing – never touched by humans hands and terrified of people.  Their faces looked more alien than feline – too wide at the eyes and too narrow at the lips. And their bones nearly poked through their fur. They would never survive without their claws.

They did love our patio though. Largely because it always had a bowl of fresh water and some very expensive cat food on it. The shade from the scorching sun didn’t hurt either. And it was enclosed by a gate, so the dogs could not get in. I wonder if they felt safer in it. But I believe they must have been curious about our cats too.

They would sit and watch each other through the glass.

Part of our morning routine as humans was to put food in the bowls for the cats outside and watch them slink in and get breakfast. It was always fun to see who came first and we worried when one of them didn’t show up for a few days. We noticed who had new scratches and delighted when kittens arrived one morning. We counted them and named them and wondered if we could catch even one and bring it inside.

The pet store that carried the cat food and the cat litter I liked best was not very close to our house. So, I would often send our driver to pick up several packages of each.

This means that the cook, housekeeper, guard, gardener, driver, and the man on the moon all knew just how much money I was spending on these ridiculous creatures that pooped and threw up in the house. And I am sure they compared that to their own salaries and calculated in their own minds what they could do with that kind of money. To us, it wasn’t a hardship – but to them it could have been all the difference in a nicer house or better schools for their kids.

I am not sure why I am stuck on the thought of all of this. How anorexic the stray cats looked compared to our literal fat cats. How the staff must have been fascinated and miffed by the resources we dedicated to them.

One day, our cook was finally able to say out loud what he must have been thinking for months….

Francis: Ma’am, why do you feed the outside cats such expensive food
Me: They look so hungry
Francis: They will eat your leftover rice
Me: I guess that never occurred to me. Let’s try it.
Francis: Duh.

We did try it. And those cats had grown too accustomed to the the tastiness of the meat flavored cat food. They merely picked at the rice.

Francis was not about to be outsmarted by a street cat. He started adding leftover gravy to the rice. They were happy once again.

One of the things that struck me was that those stray cats never got any fatter. They knew what “full” meant and never seemed to gorge themselves.

I guess that is what was hardest about helping others in India. It was easy to feel taken advantage of. To feel like generosity was expected. Those cats came and took only what they needed and left the rest for the next cat who might pass by.

But now that I am once again an ocean away from the struggles of so many, I am left to wonder why I didn’t do more. How I might better define the lines of graciousness that I was willing to tiptoe around but never fully cross over. I am not sure there is an answer but I am sure I will always question why those of us with too much (including myself) aren’t more generous to those with much too little.

But how are you………..

This is how a lot of emails from my friends end – your blog is great – but how are you, really?

That is a tricky question. Most of you know, I would not have picked to move to India. The decision came about quickly and it was a big surprise. I knew from the first moment of hearing the possibility that it would be a great adventure for our family and that we would never regret coming to Delhi. I realized that was true. And then I threw up.

This has been a wonderful career move for number one hubby. He loves his job and he loves having our family close together. I love that too. I am very proud of him and it is amazing to watch him thrive.

There are certainly challenges that I did not expect. India is considered a hardship post by the U.S. government and most private companies. I can agree with that. A big challenge for me – being a terrible creature of habit – is that nothing is really predictable. Just because you found kick arse goldfish crackers and nacho cheese Doritos at the market this week, does not mean anything for next week. Living in India is like investing in the stock market. Past performance is not a measure of future success.

I miss my family and dear friends terribly. I hate being away from them. H.a.t.e. it. Period. This is the biggest challenge for me. And I so miss my little cat Queso.

We have celebrated 4 birthdays here and it was difficult at best not to have my family here with us. Easter and Thanksgiving will not be easy either.

I miss my shower with never-ending hot water and double shower heads. I miss my kick-arse washer and dryer. I miss my double oven. I miss my office filled with paper and embellishments with a window that looks out at trees. I miss Taco Bell and Cheesecake Factory and Chick-Fil-A. I miss soft towels that smell like a spring rain.

But I realize that you can survive without the things that make life more comfortable. It’s the whole niceties v. necessities argument. And you can find new adventures without a dryer and a double oven that make those things seem not as important.

Although the basement where the kids can go when they you need a break is hard to live without.

And I do miss shopping at Target and Costco. I can live without shopping at those stores – I actually like the markets here – they are interesting and fun. But I miss the one stop shopping. And I really miss stores that open at 8am. Nothing here seems to open before 11am.

I miss driving myself. Although, I do not want to drive here – traffic is crazy! But there is freedom in a set of car keys and a drivers license.

I miss living on a cul-de-sac with a yard and trees and flowers. I miss kick ball in the court and a glass of wine on the front porch. I miss the crazy sleepovers we used to host with tacos for dinner and waffles for breakfast.

Connections are harder to make when everyone knows they will be moving at some point. So I guess I miss the sense of permanence.  There is comfort in believing that you will be friends with someone for a long time. I am not pointing fingers at others here at all – this is my issue – I find myself pulling back and being more hesitant to get involved because I know that people will be leaving – including me.

Old habits die hard and I just miss my routines.

However, there are a lot a things that balance out the things I miss.

The school is amazing. I have talked about it before so I won’t bore you with repeating myself. But my children are growing as learners in ways they might not have in the U.S. They are thinking in ways they have never thought before. There is a big emphasis here on creative thinking. I love that! The school also addresses my children as people and as students. In Flower’s conference, the teacher had as one of her goals to participate in the swimming program at the school. He has already gotten to know her very well and is fostering her growth inside the classroom and out. The teachers in the U.S. knew my kids very, very well – but the curriculum is just very different here. And by the way, I miss those U.S. teachers for a lot of reasons – they are fabulous in their own right.

Bear’s Humanities class is a mix of English and Social Studies. They have couches in his classroom and the kids “hang out” to learn. Bear actually asked me to go to the library with him the other day to help him pick out a book to read. After I got up off the floor from falling over – off to the library we went. He checked out two books.  I don’t think he has actually started reading either one of them yet – but, hey, baby steps.

Angel has been given differentiated instruction in math. It appears she has quite the creative problem solving little brain. It is not a surprise really because she plays a little game with herself where she creates an invention and then she talks about it for 45 minutes straight. The ideas truly pour out of her. It is nice to see that embraced at school.

Seeing that the world is not the bubble we knew has been good for all of us. There is so much here that is different and interesting. We are fortunate to be exposed to it.

Although Bear did ask when we could go back to not having anyone cook and clean and just “be” in our house. I had to explain to him that someone was cooking and cleaning and “being” in our house before. She just wasn’t get paid to do it. To which he replied “oh yeah”. I reminded him that “that would be me”.

I miss a quiet house with no one milling about. But I do not miss cooking, cleaning, or the laundry. See how complicated this all becomes?

Poverty has been hard on the eyes and much harder on the heart. I am working on a blog post to further explain and explore that. It should be coming soon. But it has made us all more appreciative of shoes and food and family. I am looking for a place to volunteer so that I can share my time with these children who have so little. But I want to be clear that many of these children have the biggest, most beautiful smiles. They are not miserable just not advantaged.

Number One Hubby has made some changes at his company that will help out some of the poorer people in Delhi. I feel really good about that.

It is dirty here and the pollution is unreal. We spent 5 hours at the pool the other day and got no suntan whatsoever. That might be good in the prevention of skin cancer – but I am worried about the lung cancer. But we got to spend 5 hours at the pool in the middle of March. That rocks.

I am not a super adventurous eater – so this has not been so much a culinary experience for me. But there are opportunities. And they serve beets here. I might be the only one in Virginia who actually eats beets – but I am in good company here! Yummy. And yesterday I tried red potatoes that had been skinned and rolled in sesame seeds. Holy potato, batman, they were fabulous!

We have seen Jaipur and we have seen the Taj Mahal. Both were amazing. And it makes me resolve to show my children more of the United States. They have not seen the Grand Canyon or Yosemite or Mount Rushmore and a lot of other things. I hope to correct that.

We are also hoping to visit Thailand and Egypt and China. I never imagined in my wildest dreams we would even talk about doing any of that.

We are spending more time as a family. We eat dinner together every night. The practices at the school are all over by 6pm and they are all at the school. So there is no hustling from field to field. There are no drive-thru dinners. Yeah, that is a blessing and a curse.  We are certainly eating healthier meals. But remember, I miss me some Taco Bell.

I am loving this blog adventure and am thrilled to be writing again. It has been so long since I put my thoughts down and it is a treat to write almost every day. I continue to be absolutely amazed that so many people are following along. And I am confident that we will not lose the details that are making this journey so enjoyable.

As you might recall, we also started yoga. We used to tease my dear sweet neighbor who loves yoga – but now we are eating our yoga mats. We enjoy it – especially now that we know our instructor has a sense of humor. He doesn’t mind us teasing each other during our sessions. Sometimes he even chuckles along.

So anyway, the long story short is that I am enjoying much of our adventure. There are pockets of time when I am a little down. But most of the time, I have my seat belt on and I am ready to go. And yes, seat belts are a very good idea in India.

Interview with a Vampire (or me me)……..

Okay, I am not really a vampire – but an interview with me just did not sound as interesting. In the blog world, there is this thing called a me me – it’s a little chance for readers to get to know more (than they ever wanted to know) about the blog author – that’s me, yes, me. Miss Grace got interviewed and now I get to play along. She asks the questions, and I answer.  Bear with me – this might require some thought – stand back in case my brain explodes from actual use, I cannot be held accountable for the splatter. What? If Walmart does not have to corral their shopping carts, why should I? Anymeme, here it goes.

1.  What’s your favorite non-blog website/place to waste time on the internet.

I am sadly a facebook addict. It has been very fun to connect with friends from long ago – I have even met a future friend from India. Now that is cool. I also read skim the Times of India. And I cannot tear myself away from the craft sites where I have wholesale accounts. It appears I have more than one dark addiction demon in my computer life. (Really though, the blog sites are my faves.)

And I cannot, will not forget about Skype. That is how the kids and I talk to number one hubby – for free – everyday. It is a little piece of communication addiction that I embrace.

2.  What material thing/place (not a person) do you think you’ll miss the most when you’re in India?

Hmmm. Since you said not a person, you left open the door for other creatures. I am going to say my little cat Queso. She sits with me at the computer almost every minute that I am here and gives me scratchy cat kisses. She also purrs really loud. It’s going to be hard to top that. But the place would be my neighborhood and my newly renovated house. I love them both and it is very hard to tear myself away from home. I will also miss my double oven. Apparently my new oven is a large toaster oven that actually sits on the counter.

I am also a horrible creature of habit. So, I will very much miss my very comfortable routines.

3.  What everyday thing do you wish you could eliminate from your life forever?

This one is easy. Laundry. And the cat litter. And dishes. Okay – I will just say chores in general. This elimination might actually occur in India. If I can put the control freak in me aside and let others (literally) do my dirty work. Oh yeah, and I would not mind throwing mean or manipulating people out with the trash. No time for that. Maybe they could be recycled. Hey, I guess that could happen in India too – I understand they believe in reincarnation.

4.  Describe the first date you ever went on (in your life).

It was with Donnie. We went with his parents to Godfather’s Pizza. They sat way across the restaurant (with a direct view of us). And we sat at our own booth. It was very uneventful. We went on this date while he was on a break from his long-time girlfriend. They got back together – they honestly probably got married. At least they should have.

My best date was when hubby beat me home from work and made dinner. He locked me out because he was not done ironing the table cloth yet. (He has never done it since – and I really wouldn’t want him to – it would ruin the memory of him frantically ironing my grandmother’s tablecloth while I am banging on the door to get in.) I don’t remember everything he made but I remember being so mad that he locked me out of my own house. Then I felt horrible. It was really great.

5.  If you had to have one song playing constantly on a loop in the background for the rest of your life, which one would be the least likely to make you want to kill yourself?

I have a hard time making choices – it’s easier to say what I don’t want than what I do want. (You should see me at the Cheesecake Factory with its 500-page menu – all the possibilities – I almost end up in a straight jacket every time.) I would not want the hookie pokie (although we did play it and dance to it at our wedding) or the macarena (I never learned out to do it). But I have learned from my parenting experience that any song played over and over is not a good thing. Repetition is the fastest way to ruin a love of musical things – be it Barney or Beethoven.  It would have to be something without words – but definitely not No More Words. Maybe it would be a cd of Queso purring. Or the theme song to St. Elmo’s Fire. My younger brother learned to play that on the piano for me because I loved the song so  much.

Okay now you have me thinking – it might be Picture by Kidd Rock and Sheryl Crow – I love the way they are both thinking about what they have given up and how sad they are not to be together – but I hate the way they refuse to admit it – then they finally do in the end. It reminds me to (try to) not take number one hubby for granted. Even if he locks me out of the house.

Your turn – Wanna play? Post a comment here saying so (you can still comment here if you don’t want questions). Include your email address if it’s not built into your commenting settings. I’ll send you some questions. Answer them on your blog, and pass it on.

Just in case you are wondering………..

Queso has a place to go for the next four months. Thank you Chris and family! This makes me very happy – even more sad – and very, very thankful. If I ever re-open the doors to A Reason To Write – you will have free cards for life. Queso Peso – I am going to really, really miss you. Maybe you can start a blog so I can keep up with what you are doing. I know, I know, it’s hard to type with paws. Sigh.

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This arrived yesterday. I heart Orvis. Yes, that was (extremely) fast. They are serious about this whole keeping the customer happy thing. They mean it.

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United Airlines has not responded to my email. I do not heart United Airlines. One suitcase has arrived in Delhi. That’s great – except – wait for it – number one hubby left the U.S. with two suitcases. I was no math major but I am still pretty sure that one plus zero does NOT equal two or 🙂 me.

United Airlines in Delhi would like to meet with Number One Hubby. They are very concerned about our experience. (Remember they tried to help us – it was their sister station in the U.S. that was more than unhelpful.) I am sincerely impressed with their concern.

Our passports arrived today with our Visas. It looks like Delhi (India) will allow live humans into the country.

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My children discovered that my laptop has a camera. This was because I waited to take a picture of my new sweater until after they got home from school. That was (not) a brilliant move.

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Left to their own devices, my children are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves – without killing each other and without the assistance of electronics. Ripley’s might actually believe it – or not – so I took a picture. Please notice nothing is plugged in and everyone is alive.

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This is what my cats think of their future trip to India. I am exploring the possibility of them riding under the seat with us on the plane. I wonder, do they make kitty diapers? They must. If not, maybe I can invent them.

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I have been spoiled by my blogging friends who are both funny and write well. Not all blog writers are creative equally. Some are really bad. And they have books published. This bothers me on a number of levels. Someone is making them think they are good, so now they are going to continue writing. I have not figured out what to write a book about (details) or how to get this unwritten masterpiece published. More details. But I really, really want to. Isn’t that enough? Maybe I should be encouraged. If she can do it…….   And, nope, I won’t tell you who they/she are/is because she has gotten enough attention already. I will give you a hint – she is not on my blogroll and she is not nice. So even if someone kindly sprinkles magic writing dust on her and she suddenly gets all Shakesperian on me she still will not appear on my blogroll. That’s how I choose to impose my own little poetic justice.

Apparently my -ER friend does have time to read my blog after all. Well, let me be fair, her two-year-old most likely read it to her while she was baking 500 dozen homemade (decorated by hand) sugar cookies for the school bake sale. And, yes, she will buy them all back – she is generous like that. Anybake, she called me yesterday. Holy moly you say – oh, have no fear. None whatsoever. She thought it was hysterical – who is she, she asked? Oh yes she did. She asked who it was. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she is (nearly) famous. She knew it wasn’t her because she HATES people like that. That really makes me laugh. A lot of people have asked me how I think of things to write about. Oh the heavens rain ideas upon me all the time. It really isn’t hard – with friends like this, who needs life experience. I can write vicariously through the insanity of others. Thank you writing gods! And, please keep it coming.

Karma is Haunting Me – Wrinkle One………..

A blogging friend of mine Lola blogged about her dog “helping” her sled down a hill and right onto a stick which ripped her pants – her very favorite pants. The ones that she has never been able to find another pair of. You can read her story here. She’s fine – so now her readers are left to enjoy a pretty funny rendition of events. Her dog and her butt survived but her beloved blue jeans did not. So in her comments section, I suggested that maybe she needed a furry pair of jeans to replace her ripped jeans. She is sassy – she knows I was kidding. But, I am afraid the Cosmos were left completely unaware.

So the Cosmos and Karma joined together to conspire against me. I am sure it is because I made a little joke about a friend’s dog – there is no other reason on this planet that Wrinkle Number One in our plan to move to India makes any sense at all. So, I am adding “being nicer to the animals of others” to my new years resolutions list. In fact, I am moving “being healthier” to the number two spot. PETA watch out – I am going to out-love you on all things animal.

It went a little something like this…..

Hold on one minute – I am going to get myself a glass of wine to relax as I re-learn to breath. I would invite you to grab a cup of whatever it is you fancy. This is a long one.

Okay, now I am set and I am pretty sure I am breathing again – panting maybe – I put my wine in a water bowl just in case –  I told you PETA watch out.

Number One Hubby left tonight for Delhi on a United Airlines flight. Yes, write that down – the airline not to use when flying your cats to India. United Airlines. Number One Hubby was taking two of our furry children with him. We arrived at the airport well outside of the requisite 2-hour time allowance to check in, kiss the furry ones goodbye, hug Dad – twice, and tearfully wave goodbye until we meet again in three weeks. Thank God we are timely folks because we spent well over an hour at the ticket counter. Can you guess what part of this did not happen?

And the winner loser is – the cats are not on the plane. I wish I could completely explain to you all of the pieces of the puzzle that did not fall into place but I am not absolutely clear on all of this myself. And, do not ask the first counter attendant, the second counter attendant, the counter attendant standing by watching,  the supervisor (who is not a supervisor, but a manager – so sorry), or the actual supervisor who only makes ghost appearances via the telephone (think of the banker in Deal or No Deal – only minus the shadow and minus the million dollar potential – but annoying all the same). None of them can explain it either. Some of them did not even try.

We have had these pet reservations for weeks. Oh yes, United allowed us to book these pet reservations thru Dubai and on to Delhi. We called this very morning to confirm our said pet reservations and were given the okay – your pets are booked – two thumbs up. We have the right crates (well minus the holes on all four sides – that was easily fixed), we had the right bowls, the right paperwork, we thought we had done everything, well, right. WRONG.

First, there was a lot of discussion about whether the cats would be considered cargo or freight or baggage and whole lot of other stuff whispered that we were not (supposed to be) privy to. So, I won’t go into how nerve-racking that was for my three little children who were standing there listening to whether or not their cats would actually be allowed on the plane or if they would be strapped to a wing. Hey, they have fur coats, don’t they? I completely lost my sense of humor at this point.

The first problem is that this airline does not interline pets. WTH? Interline – English please. We are still in America right? Interlining pets apparently does not mean putting little skates on them and letting them figure it out on their own – that would have been funny. Welcome back sense of humor – but, oh no, not so fast. Interlining means that they do not transfer pets from one airline to another. Okay. So, number one hubby can go pick up the cats from United in Dubai and hand carry them over to the connecting flight for Delhi. Right? Oh silly you. That’s what I thought too. Nope.

Dubai does not accept live animals. Then why were we allowed to book live animals on a flight that goes to Delhi – oh yeah, via Dubai? Good question – still no answer to that one. Why were we allowed to confirm live animals on a flight that goes to Delhi – via Dubai –  just this morning? Oh, you little pink panther you – another good question. No answer to that one either. Why do United regulations specify that each passenger can check two live pets with their ticket that goes to Delhi – say it with me – via Dubai? Oh you are really good – a criminal justice degree is certainly in your future.

Just as a side note – there was another couple standing right beside us with pet problems. Seems prevalent with United – at least tonight. And there was a United Representative going out of her way to help them. GASP. And I am not kidding when I say this – I really am not – she got written up for her (very helpful) actions. She helped the passengers – who were pleading with her for help – make their crates compliant. The couple had flown on United just a week before and several times before that with the very same crates that had passed inspection every single time. But tonight – well, they must have made fun of a friend’s dog too. Or they got caught in my wrath. So sorry.

But did you read that? She got written up for helping passengers follow United Airlines guidelines. Yes, my dear, something is very wrong with that. And now future passengers who are foolish enough to book their pets on United probably won’t be helped by her either. She is surely not going to want to lose her job in customer service just because she helps people get their furry family members on the same plane.

But, back to us and hold on a second, we thought we had progress. Ticket agent number one printed stickers for the cats. He was pulling them off the printer when the phone rang. And then he ripped them up. Huh? That’s what we said.

Circles – we danced all night in circles – no answers – not even one. Number One Hubby was actually on the phone with United Airlines in Delhi and they approved the cats – they had every intention of accepting the cats and were very willing to stand by that decision – if they could just be given the opportunity to do so. And still, somehow, the cats are still at home with me. The Delhi employee asked to speak with the United employees on our end. One spoke with him. Okay. Now what – she was looking for a supervisor. And, alas, we only  had a manager who would not even answer our request to speak to him.

So the supervisor who is actually not a supervisor but a manager (I am so glad she could clear something up) was very happy to spell her first and last name for us – repeatedly – would not even come back to the counter until she thought we were gone. The first counter attendant became Houdini and disappeared completely – he could feel our pain but could apparently no longer bear to share it with us. But we fooled that manager/supervisor – we were still there – because we had a representative from United Airlines in Delhi – her sister station – asking why they wouldn’t put the cats on the plane. She would not speak to them. She had gotten an answer from another invisible banker-boss in Chicago. Oh, that makes perfect sense because no part of our journey involves Chicago. So, I could see why she would not speak to the person from Delhi – where the cats were (supposed to be) going. Nor would she even look at us. Except to spell her name for us – again. She was helping someone else now. But sweetheart, you aren’t done with us yet. You should really read my blog on Part B.

Okay – I have one (more) question. Was she (not) helping someone else get their pets on the plane? These pets are a part of our family. Period. We have children – we are not crazy pet people – I am not really going to out-love PETA. But I am standing in front of you with real children who love their animals very much and my furry children who are frankly scared out of their minds. Help me. Find a solution that works. Do not walk away as if you have no responsibility to resolve this. You work for United Airlines. Your little uniform and the whole standing behind the counter thing has completely given you away. You may call yourself a manager rather than a supervisor – but the front-line employees called you because they did not know what to do. Your banker-boss was in another building. Honestly. Do something.

I am not kidding when I say that none of the CUSTOMER SERVICE representatives we dealt with offered any solutions. They only told us what could not be done. We could not put our cats on that plane. Fine. Let’s work with that. Is there another plane we can put them on? Can we reschedule to not go through Dubai? Can you talk to India about this – WE have them on the phone for you. No need to even exhaust yourself dialing the phone. How about a little understanding? Compassion? Alternative thinking?

If I had to pick a worst moment of the night it would be when the first counter attendant tried to finally explain something to us. He actually said to us in front of our three young children that the reason they were trying to be so careful is that his computer has a note right here that says that animals arriving in Delhi might be destroyed. And he, in fact, has known this to actually happen. Yes, he did say that out loud. Angel knows what destroyed means – she’s only seven, so she doubted herself and asked me repeatedly what destroyed means, with very big tears in her eyes. I finally (thought fast) and explained they were talking about the paperwork.  Guess who I won’t be nominating for employee of the year.

Here is the best part of the story. It seems that United in Delhi is very confused and a representative from United (and I believe he is actually a manager and a supervisor who admits to being both) plans to meet Number One Hubby when his plane lands in Delhi. But he won’t get to meet our cats, so this might fall under the “too little, too late, there are no actual cats with me” category.

I am so thankful that we had this little dry run. Honestly, I do not know what we might have done if we were all leaving at this time. Maybe Karma is not exactly conspiring against me but just showing me the ropes.

So, we kiss number one hubby goodbye, because he is now in serious threat of missing his flight, and we took the cats back to the car.  The cats thanked us by pooping and passing gas all the way home. The kids were in stitches.  I heard every elementary school bathroom joke on the planet. As if the night had not been entertaining enough.

There are implications that reach well beyond the tremendous stress that all of us experienced tonight. Changing our flights means changing a lot of things – the day the utilities are switched, the day the kids leave school, the day the kids start school, the day my husband flies home to help us, the stress level of our next trip has already quadrupled, all of the travel arrangements need to be rearranged – you see there is a ripple effect.

The kids are now in bed with cats curled up beside them. There are five (temporarily) happy hearts right now in this house. My heart is (barely) beating – but that is about it. Because in three weeks we have to try this all again and there will not be an exit plan. Five people are getting on a plane – there will be no one left to take the cats home – home is now in Delhi and those cats have to come with. So we have decided to vote with our wallets and are switching to American Airlines.

Notes – I reread this when I woke up this morning and then again just now. I wanted to make sure I did not exaggarate what happened out of frustration. I did not – in fact, I was quite gracious in my depiction of events. Yes, it was that bad. And I want to be clear that Number One Hubby and I did not yell – we did not make a scene – we were certainly frustrated but we were adults about it. Paying. Customer. Adults.

TWeNTy-FiVe DaYs and CouNTiNG….

Yikes, that’s right. Twenty-five days and counting. My furry children (minus Queso who has found a wonderful temporary home) leave on Sunday for India. It’s a little weird that my furry children will get to see India before my non-furry children, but so it goes.

We saw Slum-dog Millionaire this week. It has a very creative story-line but it is definitely not a advertisement for tourism, much less for taking up residence, in India. But it did pique my sight-seeing interest. It’s really not that different than any story about any child surviving in a slum would be. There are some parts that are very hard to watch. But, we have our own neglects in the United States – India appears to be no different. And because there are (a lot) more people, there are (a lot) more poor people.

I have also read Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors, which is an amazing tale about the era in which the Taj Mahal was built. It’s a magically written historical fiction that could paint a picture of the Taj Mahal and its history that even a blind man could imagine and see. Even if you are not moving to India, you can appreciate the intricate relationships of families and parents and siblings. It is a love story of action and impatience and imagination – it is the love story not just of a husband and his wife, but of a father and a daughter, a sister and her brothers, a princess and her best friend.

My book club was fortunate enough to be able to talk with John Shors. He was so gracious with his time and insights and he shared with us that this book took five years to write. You can tell. There is not one single moment in it that lets you drift away from the plot. There are graphic instances that are dealt with precisely – no violence for violence’s sake. It’s fabulous! If you have time, read it.

So, anytaj, we spent some time with friends this week who will probably not see for quite some time. It was great and Monday begins the great paperwork battle of my life. Coordinating utilities, medical info, and school records-  verifying our vaccines are, in fact, all done (please God, let them be done), – packing, unpacking, and repacking – and who knows what else. There is a lot to do with only twenty-five days and counting – backwards to the 26th. Yikes.

Things I learned today……

If you miss the white elephant gift exchange at your book club because your son is throwing up and you have to leave early, your friends will not pick the best gift for you out of sympathy. They will take it as an opportunity to get rid of share the gift that nobody wanted with you. Even if they pretend they are really sad when you leave early and promise to take care of you and your white elephant needs. At least I didn’t get my own gift back. Whew. (thanks Jill)

You could get a pretty nice set of ornaments though. And your daughter will steal them to put on the kids tree. There is no justice in this world sometimes.

Michele makes delicious Christmas candy and I can apparently eat an entire bag in one sitting all by my lonesome. Some things are better left unshared. Yum!

When my son is sick, he likes to be waited on hand and foot.

I do not miss being a waitress. Not even a little.

You should never open a bottle of Sprite that your seven-year-old hands you. No matter how cute her smile is. Never ever.

Sprite is sticky when it dries.

There are a lot of great writers out there in the world of blog.

I would like to visit Japan.

Envelopes with silver foil on the inside don’t feed through the printer so well  – at least not my printer – and I just happen to know my way around printing envelopes. And it did not matter how many different ways I tried it. Really.

My printer has a printer cartridge latch – I did not know that – now I do – and it must be shut. I am going to have to devote some time to figuring out what this is, where it is, and how to close it. I might be breaking up with my printer.

I am glad I did not try to make my Christmas cards this year. I can barely handle printing the envelopes. You’ll see.

Costco only gave me half the envelopes I ordered – even including the ones I totally demolished. That kind of stinks.

I really miss the people who are not on my list this year. I was very sad to delete the addresses for my Grandmother and my Great Aunt. RIP.

They both passed away before Christmas last year – but apparently I did not have it in me to delete them from the list just yet. I was not super close to either one of them but I miss the possibility of getting to know them better. My grandmother was very funny and I miss that  sense of humor of hers. A lot. She was funny, sometimes cranky, and always old. It’s a great combination (especially if you don’t live too close).

A lot of my friends moved this year.

I send out way too many Christmas cards.

My family really likes staying at home in our pjs on a very cold and very windy day with nothing to do but being waited on hand and foot.

Apparently my children have no problem whatsoever sitting in front of the tv for several hours – hours upon hours – that is, as long as food and drink are brought to them at regular intervals and placed directly in line with their peripheral vision – within reaching distance.

My cats do not like to go outside on very cold and very windy days. They are purrfectly intelligent little furballs.

The cats use the litter box more when they don’t go outside. Oh goody.

A nap would have been nice today. It did not happen.

I am no where near done with my Christmas shopping, but I do have a good handle on it.

My son’s stomach still hurts. Do you think it had anything to do with the chips and dip I let him have for dinner? Maybe that wasn’t a good idea. Hmmmmmm.

I think I really am going to have to reschedule that MothER of the Year ceremony. Bummer.

No, I did not learn everything I needed to know in Kindergarten…

Some things take a little longer to figure out.

I am one of those people who always has a suggestion. I know it can be annoying but I am really just trying to be helpful. I am sad that I am going to miss so many chances to share my best trade secrets with you by merely slipping them into casual conversation. So, I am going list some of my favorites for you here – you can read over them when you really miss me – it will remind you that I can be annoying. (Please don’t say “no need to be reminded”. You’ll break my heart.) But do feel free to share your own tidbits – I’ll take them with me. Then I can be annoying in India, too.

409 will get nearly any stain out of clothes – dirt, grass, ketchup, grease, oil. Really, it will. Hello baseball pants. It’s better than bleach for whites. Really, it is. It will keep the underarms of your white t-shirts white. I don’t know how it works on silk or wool – some things are better left to the dry cleaning gods.

Even if you don’t have a baby – buy diaper wipes – the generic brand is just fine. They are great to keep in the car and the bathroom. Do not flush them down the toilet. You really don’t want to know how I gained that little pearl of wisdom. They are also great for blowing a nose that is raw from being too runny (just make sure they are unscented or you won’t miss me at all.)

Ketchup does not have to be kept in the fridge – think about it. The next time you are at McD’s or any other fast food restaurant, look for the ice under the ketchup – there isn’t any. They would not risk a law suit – it can be served room temperature – and it is so much better that way! Say it isn’t so – if you don’t believe me, read the bottle – it does not say “refrigerate after opening.” (Note to babysitters – please quit putting my ketchup in the fridge.)

Cut brownies with a plastic knife. You won’t believe it – they don’t rip. You’ll be singing my praises so loudly I will hear you in India.

Salt or baking soda can get pet and kid pee (and its smell) out of your carpet. Just pour a ton of it on there and let it soak over night – then scoop up as much as you can and vacuum up the rest. You’ll need to clean your vacuum filter after this. Bear has a hazmat suit you can borrow.

Celery lasts forever in the fridge if you wrap it in aluminum foil.

Cut pizza with scissors – and the crust off of sandwiches. Buy stainless steel scissors and you can throw them in the dishwasher.

Throw toothbrushes in the dishwasher when someone is sick. It kills the germs.

Don’t buy tupperware – your old sour cream, margarine, and cream cheese containers work great. If you are someone who won’t be able to remember what’s in there  – write it on the outside of the container with a sharpie. And if you forget to eat it – wah lah – you have a science fair project. Plus you are really recycling. Go green baby.

Throw sponges in the dishwasher every day – they won’t smell spongy.

Clip newborns fingernails when they are asleep – seriously, it is so much easier!

Cook a bunch of ground hamburger at once (buy the big pack at Costco and cook it all at once) – then drain it, separate it, and freeze it in sandwich bags. When you are ready for tacos or spaghetti, you are half-way done. Half the time, half the mess.

When you are cooking ready-made biscuits, rolls, or cookies in the oven, lower the temperature by 25 degrees – they may take a tad longer to cook but they won’t be gooey inside.

Taking dinner to someone who is sick or who just had a baby is a tremendous gift – but not if you take it in a bunch of dishes that have to be returned. The sleep-deprived can barely remember to brush their teeth (and they can’t find their toothbrushes because they left them in the dishwasher), much less remember which casserole dish came from whom (thank you English degree). Forget presentation – they won’t care how pretty the salad looks. Throw everything in plastic ziploc bags or old sour cream containers and give them the gift of sanity mixed in with a little time. Throw in some paper plates and plastic forks – no dishes tonight!

I have a friend who told me once how to clean out under the stairs in her garage. But I refuse to pass this little nugget along – I don’t have time to clean out under the stairs in my garage – I don’t even care about cleaning out any part of my garage – enter at your own risk. She also tells me the time in exact minutes – enough said.

Don’t forget to share your favorite hints from Heloise.

Cat lovers of the world unite…I am sure you know where this going…

Let me introduce you to Queso. Sadly, she cannot go to India with us. She is a sweetheart and this really stinks – we are going to miss her. But she is diabetic – woah, that sounds complicated you say? Well, it is a little, but she requires no treatment. We found her to be insulin resistant -so she cannot take insulin. (do you like how I ‘splained that so clearly?) And, I wouldn’t recommend trying to get her back on it – she had seizures – it wasn’t good. Her biggest requirement is a constant full bowl of water and her litter to be cleaned out everyday – because after all, if you are constantly drinking water – well you know what happens next.


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If she were a blogger, this would be her profile…

Hometown – none, I was a homeless kitty rescued by Mr. W

Favorite meal – did you say food – count me in – whatever is on sale is just fine  – and I cannot really have snacks (remember I am diabetic)

Lineage – I think my mother might have a been a tramp (my real mother – not my human mum), I don’t know my father – I was homeless after all

Tail – not so much – I am without one – but don’t worry, I was born without it, remember there was a disclaimer in an earlier post that no animals were harmed in the writing of this post – I can vouch for that

Claws – not so much in the front (I still have the back) – that wasn’t supposed to happen – so shhhh!

Indoor or Outdoor – definitely indoor but I love to sit in an open window

Health – well, minus diabetes, very healthy – all of my shots are up-to-date

Weight – that’s a little personal, but shall we say I am fluffy? Okay – if you must know, I weigh 11 pounds. I will admit I am a little short for my weight.

Purr ability – off the charts

Snuggability – off the charts

Kid Friendly – I live here don’t I – I love me some chilrens.

Cat/Dog Friendly – yeah baby – I have got it goin’ on

IQ – well, I don’t have a pedigree (think about that one – it was funny) but I am smart enough to love my family very much

Facebook login – I don’t have a page yet – my mom thinks I am little young – but if this plea doesn’t work out I might have to explore my options

Ability to return home to my owners when they get back – Absolutely, but they will also completely understand if you fall in love with me and cannot bear to return me to them

Warning – I can pass gas with the best of them – but if you have a man/boy in the house, you have experienced this little marvel of science already.

My mom might have a friend who is willing to take me in and she is talking to her this weekend.

But, just in case that is a “not so much” she didn’t want to leave finding me a home to the last minute – so if you haven’t hit “back” yet to get the heck off this page before your kids walk into the room, please let my mom know if you think I can live with you – either temporarily or permanently.