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Case of the Aluminum Waterbottle

February 27, 2011

February 2010

So, do you remember a couple years ago when I sent my key ring on a vacation up to Utah? No? Well, that is definitely something you should check out if you need a good laugh for the day.

Anyhow, I have another one to add to the list…another nutmegHs move, but this time the culprit was one of those earth friendly, aluminum water bottles.

Let’s set the stage: I have been driving quite an elderly vehicle (mid-90’s Toyota Camry) that is still in excellent condition, but definitely has seen younger days. It creeks and whines a bit in the morning and when going around turns, you know, the usual with older vehicles. Since being in my care, I have been very diligent with the oil changes and regular maintenance…updating of tubes/hoses and other fun rubber items that older cars need to have replaced, but there had been this sound, unidentifiable sound, that had been growing more persistent over the past few weeks.

I had tried point the sound out to my husband, but it seemed to only surface when I was driving by myself (nothing better than an unidentifiable sound that only rears its head when you are alone to make you sound certifiably crazy!). Well, the sound was occuring often enough that I finally felt I could take it to my friends at the Toyota “Health Clinic” (The Truck Shop) to have them look at the issue. Not only was there a creaking sound, but now it sort of felt like something was coming through the undercarriage of the car. That couldn’t be healthy for the car, so it was finally time to take it to the specialists.

I always try to do my research before going in to a car shop so I don’t sound like a complete moron….maybe it was the CV boots or possibly a bearing in one of the front tire areas (yeah, I know, it doesn’t really help your cause if you can’t actually show that you know where the parts are that you are talking about)? I wasn’t really sure but they said they would take a look at it and let me know. Thankfully they are just around the corner from where I work, so I could drop the car off in the morning and then pick it up after work.

When I called near the end of my day, James (the owner) said that he couldn’t find anything like the noise I had described. They had driven it around the block a couple of times, and nothing to be found. He suggested that we go out in the car together so I could point the sound out to him. All I could think was, Great, I truly am crazy.

So, I hike my way over to his shop and we jump in the car for a spin around the block. James is a rather quite type of guy, so I was doing most of the talking…”So, the car didn’t make the sound, huh? Maybe I am just hearing things…How is business at the shop going?”

Ding! Grind…Creak! BANG!

Me: “THAT! Did you hear that? That is the sound the car as been making!”

Ding! Grind…Creak! BANG!

Me: “There it is again! Do you have any idea where it is coming from?”

James: “Actually it sounds like it is coming from your side of the car.”

Me: “Really? I thought it originally sounded more like the right front area…”

Ding! Grind…Creak! BANG!

Me: “Did you feel that? What do you think that could be?”

James: “Honestly, it sounds like it is coming from underneath your seat. Have you cleaned out your car recently?”

Me: “My seat? Actually, yes, I cleaned it out just a couple weeks ago. What could possibly…”

While I was uttering my final sentence I leaned back and reached under my seat to find the brushed silver culprit. That damn earth friendly aluminum water bottle.

Truly, there are no words that could be uttered by me at that point in time. My face zoomed through pink & red and settled on a very deep shade of scarlet embarrassment (not a color I would recommend wearing on a regular occasion, but is humbling to sport every so often).

I looked over and let out a quick embarrassed twitter, stated that I actually dye my hair brown (please don’t tell) and then asked the only question I felt I could, “So, how much do I owe you for your time and patience?”

James was nice enough to say that this one was on the house. I sent them over a Subway gift card as repayment for the lunchtime they likely spent on the car and dealing with me.

So, note to all those out there, make sure you diligently check under your seats for those “friendly” water bottles before taking the car in for funny sounds.


Cat Fight, and I think I lost

February 27, 2011

So, I am house sitting my Aunt’s house, when in reality that means I am “Kitty Sitting,” the house is just an awesome by-product of the job. Normally the routine goes like this: I arrive at the house after work and am greeted by the very vocal Fido the Kitty Kat (you would have to know my Aunt to know why that name is fitting for her cat). We exchange some greetings that go something like this:

“Hi kitty! How are you?”

“Meeeorrrrm.” (aka: I am alive by have been cooped up in a house all day)

“Ready to go out for a walk?”

“Meowwrm.” (Umm, yes, of course I am…let’s get move on this…there are bugs to chase and some plants to explore).

“Alright, let me just put my purse down.”

“Mrrrrm.” (Jeez, this woman takes forever! Just let me outside already. I got this down).

So, we then proceed to go on a walk around my Aunt’s garden. We play some hide and seek….he does the hiding, I do the freaking out and seeking (My aunt has quite a bit of chaparral in the backyard which is perfect breeding ground for unsavory creatures who might find plump kitties to be yummy treats). We will then come inside, I am then allowed to pet and scratch him and then I may feed him. He is quite a love bug, just a demanding love bug.

The following morning then starts at between 5am – 5:30am (and no, I am not normally up at this time), where he comes to greet me and wrestle me out of bed. I once tried closing the door to my room thinking this would deter him from bothering me…only to find that his cries/meows can reach decibels NO creature should be allowed to reach and therefore gave up immediately to the idea of locking him out of the room. I now am at the whim of waking up far earlier than I care to so that I may refill his food bowl and then take him on an early morning jaunt through the garden. He is then satisfied after about 20-30 minutes and I am shuffling/stumbling over to the coffee machine, which is from Switzerland and requires a PhD in Mechanical Engineering to operate…thank goodness they include Ikea-like picture instructions. I keep pouring myself Espressos instead of coffee, but that is just the jolt I need at 6am anyway.

THIS kitty sitting is slight different because Fido recently he had minor surgery on one of his hind legs and in order to reduce infection, I have been instructed to leave the kitty inside. For a cat who is used to at least 3-5 walks a day around the house premise, this is just not acceptable. The first couple of days we were on friendly terms, as I work during the day, so when I came home he now had someone to entertain him for a couple hours and to refill his food plate. However, with the onset of the weekend, his attitude dramatically changed and I got the full brunt of it today.

Yesterday it rained (really, it does that in San Diego, CA? What does that even look like?), so he was ok with the fact that he could not go outside. Today, however, it is sunny, beautiful and about 70 degrees and he knows it. We got into a pissing match this morning, which I am fairly certain I lost. He started his morning at 7:30am, which was nice of him to let me sleep in somewhat and the wake up call started nice enough. He jumped up onto the bed and started with a couple nonchalant “meows” and some requests for petting of the head and scratches behind the ears. Nothing too crazy. He then decided I was not motivated enough to get out of bed, and apparently because it is Sunday, he let it go..only every half hour after that, he was in my room meowing and walking all over my body. By about 9am, I finally rose out of bed, filled the food bowl and thought we would be done….I was wrong.

He ate and then his meows only became more insistant. I opened the doors out to the garage, giving him more areas to explore, which distracted him for all of about 10 minutes. He came back in the kitchen with spiderwebs all over him (really?) and with attitude behind his meows:


“What do you want from me? Aunt said I can’t let you outside. I know that is what you want, but you need to take it up with her.

“M–E–O–W–R—R–M!–!–!” (I don’t give a f*&$%! YOU are here NOW! I want outside NOW! NOW! NOW!”)

“What?! I told you, I–“

“MEOWRM” (Don’t care! Let me out now!”)

“I can’t! Your leg–“

“M-E–O–W.” (I will get you in your sleep. You watch it…you won’t even see it coming..)

Normally we have a bit of dialog and then he gets bored and wanders off, but this time he had intent in his eyes and I could feel him sizing me up for a midnight hunting somewhere down the line. I started to walk down the hallway but he wasn’t giving up. He shot ahead of me, turned and just stared at me, with that persistent meow, only with a bit more throaty sound, that sound that cats make when they are really ticked off. I tried to go around, but his pupils were really big and I could see that were I to move, an ACE bandage would be in need along with some Neosporin for my ankles and rather than having my lower joints ripped to shreds, I turned around and walked back to the kitchen.

I have been schooled by a 10 pound cat. Auntie, come home soon…PLEASE!!!

Stuff I Just Can't Throw Away

February 4, 2011

I think my December Christmas receipts are calling out for help from under the weight of the New Year's costs….

For the most part I try to run my space lean and mean….but I am an administrative goddess by day, which means I love paper-pushing. I cannot get rid of receipts. I organize them and try to put them in order, but sometimes they just end up crammed together in a plastic box in my room…so sad.

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26 Days and Counting! (04/27/05)

July 13, 2010

With just a little under one month to go, the excitement is starting to build! I have just put in my end of job notice, and let me tell you that showing up for work is becoming harder and harder! Why is it that when you finally tell your boss that you are leaving it is so much harder to convince yourself that going to work is worthwhile? I had been talking about leaving for, well, since about January (not to him, of course), and it didn’t seem as painful to get dressed in my tuxedo pants and banqueting jacket as it does now. Of course, I am coming up on my 10th month here, and this is actually the longest job I think that I have ever kept, so that may have something to do with it too!

On another note…for those of you who knew that I have been dating a guy that I work with at the Catamaran (the Cat, for short), whose name is Hugo, I just I would let you know that we broke up a week ago. I have not dated in a long time, and I had forgotten how horrible break ups make you feel. Now, I realize this seems logical, but it is easy to forget the painful things when you avoid them. Now, I/we both knew that this day would come, as I had made it very clear when we first started thinking about dating that I would be leaving in May, and that I would be leaving with “no strings attached.” People kept asking me what I was going to do with the situation, and well, with a little bit of alcohol and stifled emotions, funny how quickly a break up can occur when not planned (we dated for a little under 4 months…my longest relationship since high school)! Note to all, having an in depth, emotional talk about your current relationship while under the influence of alcohol is really not a good mixture. Hugo is a
wonderful, kind and beautiful person, and we had a good time together, but we are really different personalities, and look at life differently in some areas that ultimately for me were not working out.

Amazing that it has only been a week, but it has been one of the longer weeks in my recent life. I go back and forth between missing him and telling myself, “well, you knew it was going to happen anyway.” Such is life, eh? Why isn’t there a handbook out there that lays all this out for you? Another note to all: DON’T DATE AT THE WORKPLACE! One would think that I had learned this the first time around, but some of us are just a little “slower” than others! Heh.

Enough of that! I have also been persuaded by my Mother and Aunt to go ahead and get the Rabies shots. Fun, but hey, at least now I can go out and pet monkeys! I must say, it is a strange relief that when I am out pounding on rusty stakes in our front yard with my Dad (don’t ask, just accept it!), or when I am replacing the broken window in my truck’s camper shell, that I know I have just about every vaccination a human could possibly get that can keep me safe from disease. I am basically safe to go anywhere in the world right now! How crazy is that?

My last day of work is May 14, 2005. If anyone feels like making a trip down to San Diego at all…I will have a bunch of free time in between May 15-May 20. I know that is not a large window, but I thought that I would put it out there.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week, and I will write again soon!


First Posting (04/15/2005)

July 13, 2010

What a boring title, but I figured it was the best way to start off my postings! So, with a little over a month to go until I leave (one month, one week, and one day, but who is counting, right?), I have pretty much gotten everything settled, to the point where I could almost leave today (except that as of now, I am not in possession of my passport, because I am in the process of obtaining a couple African visas and an Indian visa). I have my bag packed, mainly because I wanted to see that if everything I have bought will fit in it (so far, so good! And, I have a first aid kit that would put the Red Cross to shame!), I have all my main flights paid for, my tours paid for (except for a couple local payments), the first portion of my European adventure with Meagan and Mike reserved, and some other contacts already made.

I got majority of my vaccinations last night, and let me tell you, it is really a tossup between whether the Yellow Fever shot or the Tetanus shot makes my arms feel heavier (I received 5 shots split between my two arms, and one oral vaccination last night)! There are diseases out there that have names that I didn’t know could have that many consonants next to one another! And so many things to worry about contracting!

  • I have been warned about petting the cute monkeys, as I could contract Rabies and need a series of 21 shots within 28 days (note to self, monkeys are the enemy!)!
  • And number one rule(s): DONT DRINK THE WATER!
  • If you can’t peel it, don’t eat it! Salads = good chance of diarrhea (hmm, tempting, but no thank you!),
  • If the water is clear and blue, but there is no one at the beach, or no one is in the water, you might stop and wonder why (good guess, not because you are the first to come upon it!),
  • And, don’t pet the monkeys!
  • There are numerous others, but these were on the top of the list.

All this planning is quite the change from my normal waiting to the last minute approach I had in college (but you didn’t read that Mom, Dad and Susan!)! I know that some will ask whether or not this much planning is a good idea, and whether or not my time is too structured. Well, for me, it is going to work, and let me tell you, there is definitely enough flex time, as most of the tours I am on, really only get me from one place to another and take care of finding lodging (something I am sure to be grateful for in places like India and Vietnam!). I have also been asked “Why am I taking this trip?” and “Aren’t you scared?” There are many parts to the answer to the first question, as well as a bit of vagueness.

I am taking the trip because I am at a flux time in my life; I am not tied down to a job or place (and I have been living with my parents for the past 8 months and have been saving), and thus have the time. I am also in search, as un-unique as this may sound, of myself, and my full potential; mentally, physically and emotionally. I kind of figure if I can handle this sort of madness, there won’t be much out there that I can’t handle. I am also going on the trip because, why not? Some people make their money to spend on cars, clothes, etc. I love to travel, and I don’t mind traveling alone. We will see just how much I like myself by the end of the trip.

As for the answer to the second question, in all honesty, no, I am not scared (at least, not yet). It may be naive, but I have full confidence that I will make it through just fine. Plus, anything that goes “wrong” only leads to lessons learned, something my Dad (whose Dad told him) has told me numerous times…basically make the best of any situation, and always see what you can learn. Hopefully this is the same attitude that I will have during the trip! Ok, well, that is quite enough for one entry (this is why I am doing postings and NOT emails, by the way!). I will keep you posted best as I can!


2005 – Clothing Pack List: Per First Time Around the World

July 13, 2010
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 1 Long sleeve polypropolene shirt
  • 1 micro fleece (can also be worn as a stylish pullover in a nice setting)
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 pair trousers (not black, but a good dark dirt-hiding color is ideal)
  • 1 thin beach towl or sarong
  • 1 plastic poncho
  • 1 wrinkle free travel shirt (long sleeved or short is fine)
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 2-4 sets of underwear
  • 1 pair of sport sandals
  • 1 collapsible hat
  • 1 bandana
  • 1 wrinkle free skirt
  • 1 pair of shorts



  • bring a foot file to shed calluses
  • tampons
  • condoms
  • miniature travel containers and restock as you go
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • dental floss
  • perfume in a plastic bottle
  • lip balm
  • brush
  • lotion
  • razor
  • sunscreen
  • mosquito repellant
  • mirror
  • all purpose soap
  • conditioner
  • deodorant


Misc. Gear

  • ear plugs
  • permanent marker
  • super glue (keep it in its own bag)
  • duct tape (wrap it around the marker to save space)
  • guitar string/wire
  • sewing kit
  • candle
  • lighter
  • power adapters (
  • pocket knife
  • spoon
  • clothes line (about 10m of nylon chord)
  • mosquito coils
  • sleep sheet (silk is the best as it keeps out the bed bugs)
  • sleeping pad


Optional Extras

  • small travel games
    • backgammon, chess, cards
  • Frisbee (can double as plate and soup bowl)


First Aid

  • Band aids (take a box worth, but put them in a plastic baggie)
  • Compeed – wonder blister cure
  • Elastic wrap bandage
  • Lidocian cream – works well on bites
  • Hydrocortisone cream – cures rashes and burns
  • Antihistamines
  • Laxatives
  • Anti-diarrhoea medicine
  • Iodine
  • Water purification tablets
  • Rehydration sachets (about 4 is enough)
    • 1 litre water
    • 1 t salt
    • 8T sugar
    • dash of juice if available
  • motion sickness pills
  • malaria pills
  • thermometer (electronic)
  • tweezers
  • Vaseline
  • Sports tape
  • Nasal spray
  • Antiseptic wet wipes
  • Tiger balm


Day pack

  • Water bottle
  • Guidebook
  • Sunglasses
  • Journal/address book/pen
  • Reading material
  • Pocket knife
  • Flashlight (little LCD key chain ones work well)
  • Pocket camera
  • Cell phone and charger

More Travel Blog Postings to Follow

July 13, 2010

Please excuse the coming barrage of posts. I am in the process of converting all of the posts I created in my Yahoo! Groups over to this WordPress blog. In total, you are looking at about 60 posts coming this way, so please be patient with me!

When reading the blogs, please keep in mind that I was a 24 year old, traveling around by myself. Events involving beer, wine and some semi vulgar language may occur from time to time. There was a point in time where my parents were worried that I was turning into an alcoholic. This is/was not the case, but alcohol sure can make an evening more interesting!

On the flip side, if you would like to chat at all about my travels or have any interest in the planning involved, or really ANYTHING related to travel, please send a comment my way!

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!