Today we take the Rotten One to get her rabies antibody titers taken.  This is just but one of the steps we have to complete in order to ship her over to the UK.  Back in the day, if you wanted to bring your pet to the UK it had to be quarantined for 6 months before it was allowed to roam free on the moors.  Fortunately the Crown has decided it's probably ok if we do this stateside, provided we jump through numerous hoops and provide extensive documentation.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining (and really, I don't blame them), but we have to get all of this in order to texpatriate Dacia.

If you're wanting to take your pooch (or cat or ferret) to the UK, the Pet Travel Scheme info is very helpful and these are the steps you need to follow:

A pet cat or dog, including guide and hearing dogs, must meet certain conditions to be able to enter or re-enter the UK without quarantine. It will have to be:

  1. Identified with a microchip
  2. Vaccinated against rabies (in accordance with the recommendation on the vaccine manufacturer's data sheet)
  3. Blood tested at an EU-approved laboratory and get a satisfactory result
  4. Issued with an EU pet passport or, in a non-EU listed country, a third country official veterinary certificate.
  5. Treated against ticks and tapeworms.

We are basically on step 3 right now -- she's microchipped and had her rabies shot 6 weeks ago, and now needs to be tested to ensure that there are sufficient rabies antibodies in her system.  I suppose it wouldn't be the least bit hilarious if we were the couple who accidentally introduced rabies into the UK -- probably not the best way to begin our adventure, on the front page of the Globe and Mail (I can see the Canadian saying "Sorry eh?").  Conversely, if we did, it would negate the need for future expats to go through the quarantine drama.  (Just kidding official England people or the Queen or anyone who can prevent us from coming into the UK who is reading this blog.  We are appropriately gathering documentation and following all the rules...I promise.  Plus, the Rotten One would like to come over on the QM 2 if you have any pull with Cunard line...)
 
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I can smell my hair as I sit here and type this -- and it smells like the deliciousness of of smoke and crackling wood.  It's that smell that transports you back to days of camping when you're sitting around making s'mores at night or drinking coffee around the fire in the morning.  I love this smell.

The Canadian, the Rotten One, MomE and I spent Thanksgiving on my Uncle's ranch with my Aunt and my two cousins.   It's beautiful, cozy, and a perfect place for family to sit around an old mission door table, stuff ourselves full, and celebrate...and of course, later curl up on the couch with a blanket and roaring fire (hence the yummy smell in my hair). 

Here are some photos -- apologies for the poor quality -- I took them with my phone at 6 am and it was absolutely freezing outside.  I was walking from the Bunk House to the Main House and trying to take photos and get myself to warmth as quickly as possible.


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Dacia on the steps of the bunkhouse
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Looking at the main house from the pavilion (we had some wonderful conversations on the porch drinking coffee after the cold front came through -- from 80 to 40 degrees in 1 hour!)
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The fireplace -- the source of the glorious fire that made me so happy.

We also learned that Dacia (the Rotten One) loves to follow anything.  My uncle took us on a tour of the ranch in a souped up golf cart (rugged wheels and the requisite Texas hunting rifle hanging off the back) and Dacia ran like a bullet following the golf cart around 80 acres of land. She decided to do this again later when my uncle and the Canadian went out again...when we returned home to Austin, this is what happens after running around a ranch for hours on end:
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Mama...I'm so tired from all the fun.
 
Today the Canadian, the Rotten One, MomE and I will be heading out to my Uncle's ranch for Thanksgiving.  You are now wondering who is MomE?  Well, MomE gave birth to me -- 18 hours to be exact.  She and I are pretty much opposites but we love each other and our differences.  She's a smartypants attorney here in Austin and I'm going to miss being a 15 minute drive away from her when I move.  She is, however, accompanying the Canadian and me (and hopefully the Rotten One) over on the QM2 when we Texpatriate. 

MomE has 8 brothers and sisters -- and I have ~30 first cousins and hundreds of second and third ones because my grandfather's brother had 10 kids as did one of his sisters.  MomE also has an identical twin sister, which is pretty cool. My mom's twin had five kids - MomE had one.  At this point, if you have read previous posts, you might say, "but you have a sister!".  I do....and that is why I have to differentiate between MomE, and MomT.

MomT is my step-mother who is no longer married to my dad and is now married to someone else.  She arrived in my life around the time I was five years old, was married to my dad for 17 years --  and I love her dearly.  She also is my sister's mom.  She also has a more complicated family tree (marriages, divorces, halves and steps!) than almost any one I know.  People become very confused when I tell them that MomT has a sister and brother that are younger than her daughter (my sister).  In other words, my sister has an aunt and uncle who are younger than she is.  (MomT's dad remarried a much younger women and had a second batch of kids).  Complicated right? 

Both MomE and MomT have always gotten along really well and actually really like each other  (Hurray for adult behavior!!).  MomE loves my sister and MomT is my second mom.  I love MomE and MomT equally but differently and  I'm very thankful to have two moms -- what a lucky girl :)  You might wonder where my dad is?  Well, I'm not really going to talk about my dad here on this blog except to say that he and I don't communicate and haven't for years.  He doesn't talk to my sister either -- and I will leave it at that.

So, we're heading out to MomE's youngest brother's house.  We'll have a wonderful Thanksgiving with my Aunt and Uncle and my two cousins, their daughters -- all on a big Texas ranch.  It's a little Texas cliche but I'm looking forward to it since I have no idea if I will want to fly home for Thanksgiving next year....or if I will celebrate it in London.  I'm soaking up all of the cheesy Texan and American 'stuff' to hold with me when I am homesick which I inevitably will be.

I'll take photos and post them when I can....
SB

 
Dear amazing expats Sara in Le Petite Village, Not from Around Here, and She's Not From Yorkshire,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Seriously. 

I've had a mini existential crisis lately about the impending move to London.  How will my identity be affected? How will I fit in the universe in London?  Will I be too stubborn to adapt?  Will I still say y'all?  Will any English person ever like me and am I too Texan or friendly or Southern or bossy or loud or direct or outgoing for the Brits?  Will I be able to integrate English into my English?  Will I have any friends?  Will I get my dissertation finished?  Will I be ok when I desperately miss Mexican food and iced-tea and 80 degree weather in November? (Yes, folks, here in Austin the day before Thanksgiving it is 80 degrees...)

You ladies have given me a LOT of fodder to absorb.  I have been devouring you three (well She's Not From Yorkshire is multiple but you know what I mean...) for the last week -- from the beginning of your blogs.  (I'm finished with Sara and She's not from Yorkshire, but only at around May 2009 in Not From Around Here -- probably will finish this afternoon).  I am so thankful that all of you have put yourselves out into the blogosphere and been as honest as you have about the good, bad, ugly and hilarious.  I have appreciated your rants, your frustrations, your coping abilities...the list goes on and every bit of it is helping me to understand what I'm facing and to begin to make some decisions beforehand about my own behavior. 

I know, rationally, I will find my place, I always do. My sister says that I do a really good job of settling into places.  And this is true.  I'm technically an introvert but I have a knack of finding amazing people (particularly women) and making a space wherever I land and so I know that this will not change about me.  But it's the irrational side of me that brings up these questions.

And so, the day before American Thanksgiving, I would like to give thanks for the internet and the six newest women to enter my life.  I am grateful they are allowing me to use their collective experiences to begin building a foundation for my own expat time as it approaches.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

p.s.  I have a whole list of blogs that I'm working my way through one by one.  If you have others I need to be reading, tell me! 

 
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This morning North and South Korea fired missiles at each other and the royals announced their wedding date.  In April when Kate and Will (as I would now like to call them, since we'll practically be neighbors and almost certainly dear friends when I arrive) marry, the Canadian will already be in England and I will be stateside (unless Kate and Will send the invite my way, in which case I will book my ticket forthwith!).  I'm a little nervous about being apart for about 3 months when the Canadian goes over early and I have to stay stateside to finish my coursework.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those simpering girls who has never been apart from her husband -- in fact, during the course of our five year marriage, we have never actually 'lived together' for more than a few weeks at a time. 

You see, the Canadian is a consultant, and with his previous job that he had since before we were married, he was somewhere in the world Monday through Friday, and sometimes over the weekend as well.  At most, he was home four weeks in a row, one time, in the last five years.  We spend a LOT of time apart.  Our texpatriation will be the first time that we will actually live a 'traditional' life where we are together in the evenings (I will explore this further in other posts since this is actually of great concern as well...).  But back to my original point, even though we've been apart quite a bit, it's never been for more than three weeks.  And now we are looking at three months.

I had another long distance relationship before the Canadian -- we'll call him Mr. Washington since he lives in Washington state.  We were together for 6 years, entirely long distance -- sometimes not seeing each other for six weeks or two months.  I think that was part of the demise of the relationship -- the lack of connecting to each other (this was long before skype and other ways of connecting) and all we had was the phone.  I notice that after about week 2 (apart) you start 'forgetting' what the other person looks like and after you see them  there is a period of adjustment and re-connection.  I know that I also tend to become very independent and creating routines for myself as a coping mechanism, which, when the Canadian comes home after a longer than five day time away and interrupts them -- an argument ensues.  This happened with Mr. Washington as well.  And with Mr. Washington, about the the time we'd reconnect, we'd be apart again, which is why he's married to Mrs. Washington and they have the two baby Washingtons and I am not with Mr. Washington and married to the Canadian.

I guess I've circled the point here -- but it was a train of thought -- as Kate and Will trade vows, I hope the Canadian and I are still happy we took ours...and not trading missiles like North and South Korea. 



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If you're into expat blogs (which you probably are because you're here -- unless you're my mother or the Canadian and you only read this out of obligation - genetic or legal) here's a list of 20 Awesome Expat Blogs from around the world -- you should check them out!!
 
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Meet the Rotten One aka Dacia (rhymes with gotcha -- my sister calls her Rotcha for Rotten Dacia).  We really would like to take her across the pond on the QM2 with us versus flying her over. We booked 10 months in advance (basically as soon as we found out we would be expatriating, thinking that would be plenty of time to get a kennel...).  There was one kennel available but turns out she's too large for a single kennel and has to have a double kennel.  (Basically her nose doesn't fit -- are you surprised?) There isn't one available. Cunard doesn't have a waiting list -- you just have to keep calling.  So...every week I continue to call to see if there's a kennel available.  Cunard, please let Dacia on?  And please create a waiting list with names on it?   She can't help it if her nose is too big for the small kennels.  She wants to sail over on the QM2.
 
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Click photo for attribution website
I'm going a little crazy on the 'research' for moving to London.  I admit it -- I can't help myself.  I think it's my way of processing the move, to gather infinitesimal amounts of information about life in the UK so as not to fall apart in complete horror that my world is different once I arrive.  Preparation.

So, I've been posting questions on my new favorite forum for US expats to the UK AmericanExpats.  (I've linked to this and other great expat sites here just in case you need some advice months before you move as well) Even though it's 6 months before my move, I'm asking all sorts of questions about what I need to know before I move. (Nerd.)

The main thing you need to know (as I am passing on this knowledge to you), apparently, is that it's very important to have double glazed windows.  Being a Texas gal, with amazing weather 89% of the  time, I have no real cognizance about windows.  According to the Canadian, it's a law in Canada that all windows must be double - glazed.  Turns out this is not unanimous to the rest of the Commonwealth since it's apparently not the case in cold, damp, England, where according to the posts on the forum 'no amount of heating will keep out the cold and damp if you don't have double-glazed windows.'  All of those gothic romances I used to read about drafty homes on the moors of England were, apparently, were not partaking in gothic hyperbole -- they were describing a natural occurring phenomenon -- the lack of double glazing. 

I am already starting a list of things to ask of the realtor once we arrive -- and it's divided into deal-breakers, very important, and nice to have (bet this realtor will LOVE me) -- and double-glazing is now a deal-breaker.  Good to know.

 
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So....yeah.  The City of New Orleans extended the water boil until 'tonight'.   (They were supposed to lift the advisory at 3 pm, but needed to do another round of testing.)

The city continues to do an excellent job of managing expectations.  In the mean time, I hope I'm not incubating Hepatitis C or giardia.   

 
The Canadian and I have now lived in New Orleans for almost 8 months.  We've loved every minute of it.  Frankly, it was kind of a genius move on my part to get a Ph.D. in a city with extraordinary food and booze 24 hours a day -- at least the Canadian thinks so.  We really do love it here, but living in New Orleans is kind of like a dysfunctional relationship.   If you've ever watched Monk, you know what I mean.  Monk is loveable but traumatized (and broken) and often incredibly frustrating -- nonetheless, you can't help adore him and want to help.  Getting a Ph.D. in International Development has sort of underscored what exactly constitutes developing country status -- and I frequently see threads of this here...hence my comparison.

The latest New Orleans 'developing country' incident is the water boil.  As of sometime yesterday, we have been under a water boil advisory because the loss of water pressure the night before could have allowed dangerous bacteria or viruses (Hepatitis C) to move into the water system.  The Canadian and I did not find this out until we went out for lunch (at noon) and were standing in line waiting to order listening to the radio. Noon.  NOON!??!!  After our morning coffee, after the toothbrushing, shower, face-washing regime...basically after we'd slathered ourselves in toxic sludge. 

Was this the headline on Nola.com in big, bold, red letters?  No....it was the fourth story down.  Was there a system that we could have signed up for to receive text messages and alerts about crises (you would think Post Katrina this would be mandatory...)?  Yes, it turns out we could have received text messages or email alerts.  Did we know about this?  No.  Did the utility company tell us about this option when we signed up for our utilities?  No.  Did it work even for those who WERE signed up? No.  Those people were texted and emailed at 4 pm....4 hours after we found out via radio standing in a line in a restaurant. 

I really love New Orleans -- I do.  I will desperately *miss* this chaotic, beautiful, city -- the people, the soul, the culture, the food (oh God the food), the cocktails  (oh GOD the cocktails!!), the giant oaks in Audubon Park, my morning walks in the French Quarter after the tourists are gone and it's just us locals, the columned homes and beautiful southern detailing, the intricate, lacy, wrought iron, the swampy, bayou feel, the Mississippi which makes me think of Mark Twain, the SAINTS (watching them win the Superbowl was incredible!!), and of course my amazing colleagues at Tulane. New Orleans will always be my second home and will hold a very special and dear place in my heart.

I will not miss the absolutely craptastic roads (I've driven on better roads in Nicaragua...), the complete inability to make a left turn anywhere, the utter disregard for any sign (Oh, it says don't park here because I will cause accidents and traffic jams?  I think I will park here then...!!!),  the pervasive corruption, the paralyzed city council members who are unable to effect any kind of change (more on that later...), and the developing country mentality that continues to pervade the city.  The Canadian jokes that New Orleans is like a website.  In most cities, when you need something, you go to their website and it says 'Here are all the ways in which we can help you find what you need'  in New Orleans you go to the website and it says '404 not found'. 

And as I sit here and drink my boiled water in my coffee, I am thinking about what my next Texpatriating adventure will be like --- what I will love, what will drive me crazy. 
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