Friday, December 24, 2004

Buster: The Cat Who Hated Christmas!

Our newest cat, Buster, is quite the riot. If he were a person, he'd be the epitome of today's "extreme" (or is that X-treme?) generation, and no doubt he'd ride a snowboard/skateboard and wear a goatee. He runs around like crazy, sometimes literally climbing the walls, and he's fascinated with running water. When Lisa takes a bath, he'll sit on the side of the tub and shove both his forearms into the suds all the way up to his shoulders. He's actually a very cool cat, but much as some folks have to "childproof" their house, we have to "Busterproof" ours, being sure not to leave small, shiny, breakable items on tables or on the window sills.

Thus, I knew I was tempting fate when I constructed our annual "Christmas alter." We usually don't have a tree because hauling one is a lot of trouble if you don't own a car, and the cats would knock it over anyway. I thought, however, that I might be able to build a nice holiday display where Lisa and I could put our presents:

What was I thinking?...

That's okay. He's really a good kitty. But you can see that a real tree would be a real problem!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Deutscheland or bust?

A few days ago, Lisa found out that Portland State University had room for her in their "study abroad" program (insert silly "study a broad" joke here) . This would be for summer school -- approximately mid-April to Mid-July -- and an excellent opportunity for her, as a German major, to study and learn the language under ideal circumstances, i.e., in Germany. Because there's no reason that her application won't be accepted (they have room, she has more than completed the prerequisites and her grades are great), we've been going on the assumption that the trip will happen.

Ideally, I'd like to be with her the whole time, but there are a couple problems with that. Primarily, we're uncomfortable with both of us leaving Buddy for three straight months. Also, her housing is paid for if she lives in a dorm, so it makes sense to take advantage of that (especially given the crappy dollar/euro exchange rate right now, thanks a bunch George W. you deficit-spending chimp). Although each student has their own room, it's still a tiny space with shared common areas. And as much as we love each other, spending three months in a room the size of a walk-in closet could be difficult for us both. Plus, I lived in a dorm during my first two years in college, and I have no burning desire to repeat that experience. To put it mildly.

So right now we're planning that I fly over with her, spend two/three weeks, come home, then fly back at the end of her stay for two/three weeks and have a bit of a belated honeymoon in Europe.

All fine and good, but that means a lot of planning.

First, what to do with the pets? My sister Tavia has graciously offered to take Buddy for the duration, but I'd have to get him out to Ohio and it doesn't solve the problem of what to do with our three cats. Luckily, my brother Steve has tentatively agreed to move out to Portland and house sit during that time and mind the boys and the homestead. It works out well for him because he's been wanting to spend an extended time here -- with a possibility of the move being permanent -- and this would give him a chance to live rent-free and look for a job from a stable home base. Plus he loves the animals and they love him.

Second, I want to learn at least a bit of the language. I've heard that many Germans speak at least some English because it's widely taught in their schools. But I want to make the effort to converse auf Deutsche while I'm in Deutscheland, as I think it's rude to expect them to know YOUR language when you are in THEIR country. So I signed up for a beginning German class at Portland Community College. (This has the added benefit of me not having to pay back my student loans right away -- ha ha!).

And third, I need to get a passport. I've always wanted to get one but never had the impetus. Now I do, so I ordered a copy of my birth certificate, and today I went downtown to the Post Office to submit my passport application. With that, I really got excited about the prospect of going to a completely new country and expanding my horizons (literally). The helpful woman at the Post Office noted that on my application under "occupation" I'd put "writer." She said, "This should give you something good to write about!" And how!

Lots can happen between now and then, but I'm looking forward to the trip already. Many of my relatives are from Germany, and also, I've heard they have beer there. Just a rumor, probably.