Sunday, September 30, 2007

Getting our feet on the ground

Don't miss Melinda's post below, including the link to the first batch of pictures.

We've been here for four days now, and we are very ready to move into our new apartment tomorrow and start building a regular routine. It's been great fun so far, but we've been on the road in some fashion for two weeks now, and we're ready to start cooking for ourselves again and just having a regular life.

The first four days have been dominated by our apartment search. I intentionally put off finding a place until we got here so that we could see the apartments and their surroundings before committing. That's a great idea in practice, but getting on a plane with only a hotel reservation was stressful. The first thing we did after getting into our room was head out to the rental agent I'd contacted. He's kind of a shifty, nervous guy , but he had two pretty good options and told us he'd call the next day so we could go see them. We thought things were going great. When we went by to see him, the best option was no longer available and the second best option couldn't even be looked at until Monday. We went to visit the third best option. There was a problem with the key, so we could only see the stairwell and the outside of the locked door, but what we saw didn't look so great... and it was more than we wanted to pay anyway. So, since shifty rental guy doesn't work weekends (!!!), we were stuck until Monday. That made us none too happy.

So, we went off to the news stand and bought the classifieds, spent Friday night poring over them, and then made a few calls on Saturday morning. The fruit of our labor was a place in a residential/shopping district in the newer part of town. Since we won't have a car, we didn't want to be too far out, but we also want to save our money for traveling. It took almost an hour for us to walk there from our hotel in the center. It is a nice walk along the banks of the river. The river area near our apartment is full of parks and nice promenades.

I thought we were in trouble as we approached the new place, as there were a ton of run-down- looking high rises, but nestled among the high rises is a little 6 story, well-maintained building. The new rental agent was much more professional and the apartment fulfilled all of Melinda's desires: top floor, shower with curtain, washing machine and all of mine as well: a balcony (we'll have two) and a TV.

We'd planned on a seeing a few places, but after our experiences the previous day, we decided to take it. The location is very convenient, despite being some distance from the center. It is right on the tram line and has everything we'll need on a regular basis right in the area. It also seems like a very family friendly, safe area.

We had a celebratory dinner at the Brewery. My gorgonzola steak was tremendous. Melinda wimped out and had her usual chicken alfredo. I don't blame her... she'd had to deal with a lot of strange food already.

So, while basking in the joy of good food, a new apartment, and the discovery that local cable carries German soccer games and even some NFL, Melinda discovered that I had either forgotten or never been told her correct middle name. I had it in my head that it was Dawn... not so much. The love of my life quits her job, sells her car and comes with me to Bosnia of all places... and the first thing I do is forget her middle name. Not good.

Melinda has been remarkably calm through the entire process. She's a planner and the nature of this process makes planning very difficult. I didn't sleep for a month before I came to Europe for the first time, but she seems to have taken it all in stride. It is going to be an exciting 9 months.

Sarajevo, and the Livin's Easy (For Me)

Ok, finally, I have some pictures that I've uploaded. You can view them here.

I had a nice long post, but now I don't have it with me...we saved it to the thumb drive when we went to the Internet cafe yesterday, and today we found a Mexican restaurant that has free wi-fi. This restaurant is awesome...caters to foreigners, for sure, but the food kicks ass.

The big news is that yesterday we found an apartment. We sign the papers tomorrow and move in tomorrow as well. It's on the top floor, otherwise known as the penthouse suite, of a 6 floor building, and we have a judge that lives on the bottom floor so we have our own security guard. The apartment is lovely and about 3 miles from the city center, which is as far as we wanted to be, but if I'm walking 6 or 12 miles a week, that's just fine with me...til winter hits, right? Ha. No! I'd rather walk than tram it - they're too busy!!! So anyway, we're very excited to have found a place that's very nice and has a shower curtain as well as a washing machine in it! We'll be getting new curtains to block out a bit more light, but otherwise, things are going well.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Day 2, Kittens 3, Melinda 0

The gods are conspiring against us. I stayed up as long as I could last night, which meant my arse was asleep at 7 pm due to only sleeping an hour on the plane. So what does that mean, Dear Reader? Jet lag. 1 am rolled around, and because of the street lamp outside our window, I thought it was already 6 or so, so I got up, checked the clock, and said, ''You've got to be kidding. Crap.'' Wiley woke up too. We were up until about 4 am, and then finally got back to sleep until just about 9 am. Our room faces a very busy street, so all night long, cars zipped by. But it's really quite pretty if it would just rain and be done with it.

And speaking of cars, for those of you who think I have no space bubble or drive too fast, I invite you to Sarajevo. My driving is TAME compared to these nutsos!!! They park and drive on the sidewalks. Sometimes I have to walk in the street, and there may be only a couple inches to spare, but they're good about stopping when we have the green man telling us to walk. (Breathe, Auntie Em. It's all good.)

We've walked around part of the city (I'd say most but I doubt it), and so far, I've seen three kittens, one who looked like it was about 5 weeks old. No, I did not pick them up or pet them. I would love to, but you know me ~ if I touch it, it's mine.

Apartment shopping has not gone so well today. The apartment we discussed with Leo yesterday was already rented, so we went to look at another one, but the keys didn't work. So perhaps on Monday, we can find something or go back to that apartment. The building is in crappy shape, but Wiley tells me from his days in Croatia that the buildings may look bad, but the rooms inside frequently are kept up very well.

I think that's it for today. Pictures will come as soon as we're set up in an apartment so you can see what's going on!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Live from Sarajevo!

on a german keyboard, no less, so pardon spelling. We made it. And our luggage did too! We had a couple of leaking ziploc baggies but no real damage. Are looking at an apt. tomorrow. Bumpy last flight into Sarajevo but met a basketball team from Germany including 7 americans and 5 europeans. Very tall kids. So we are here and dying already from secondhand smoke. Favorite part of trip so far was the United flight attendant: when trying to get my bag overhead because Wiley and I were not in the same boarding class, the lady watched and said it would not fit. I asked for a little help. The unFredlike response: We do not lift bags. Each passenger must lift their own bag. She JUST saw me lift it. I replied rather icily that I could lift it, but what I didnćt want to do was break the plane. She grudgingly came over to help. Wish us well, we will be in touch again soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Well, Maybe Tomorrow

will be the day we actually leave. Chicago's weather was bad, so our flight from Memphis was canceled. They couldn't get us to Chicago to catch our connection, so we're flying to Chicago tomorrow and will be in Sarajevo Thursday. In the meantime, I've been catching up on playing with my camera. Check this out:

Maybe you're not impressed, but I am.

Bye Bye Bye

Well, today's the day we leave for other worlds, so I won't be posting for a few days...need to find an apartment first! Say some prayers that the weather clears so we don't miss any of our flights! Bon voyage!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Naps are Fun

I hated them as a child, always wanting to be up with the grown-ups to figure out what they were doing because it must've been way better than taking a nap...otherwise, why weren't they going down for a nap?? In my older younger age, naps are like sneaking away to view a glimpse of Heaven. The pillow is my Promised Land. No TV, no problems, just me and my blanket, bed an pillow. Oh, how I love naps. Sometimes I don't love the reason why I take them: the past couple days it's been because I've been tired during the day due to running - yes, running!! - in the morning - early morning. The running has actually been (dare I say it) fun. It just figures that I start getting my groove on right before I move to a foreign country where people don't "work out". They walk everywhere, and that's how they stay so thin.

Taking naps when I return from retirement could pose a serious threat to my working life.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Watching Almost - Obese Delinquents

After driving 9 hours on Thursday and then turning around and driving 9 hours on Friday, today we have finally been able to relax a bit. Most of the suitcases are packed, I was able to put in a run this morning, and now I'm watching the Razorbacks lose to Kentucky. Wiley laughs at me when I watch football; when I get interested, I really get interested. AR was up for the extra point, and as the guy got ready to kick, I yelled, "Do it! Do it! Do it!"

Sometimes I don't know who I am.

In any event, it's been a nice relaxing day for once.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Retirement's A-Spoilin' Me

Today we woke up at 6:30, which is actually kinda nice because it kinda sets me on a routine that I was used to. Then we ate some breakfast, loaded up the car and the four suitcases which are nearing if not over 50 pounds, and headed to Blanchard Springs Caverns, where we saw this:

Talk about kick-ass. You can check out other photos I took here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What A Burger!!!

Today, Wiley's parents took me to Whatta-Burger. Wiley has mentioned this, so we stopped for a bite. Now, this is not to be confused with What-A-Burger, which is a chain. This is a local delicacy, and boy, was it tasty. They make your burger as soon as you order it: mine was a regular cheeseburger with ketchup, mayo, tomatoes and pickles. We split a bag (and it was a BIG bag) of fries four-ways and I also got a small chocolate shake. If you are in Russellville, AR, then you need to find this place. You'll be greeted by some teen who has a stack of bags in her hand. She will write your order on this bag. Then you stand in line and order your drink. By the time you're finished ordering your drink, your burger will be ready.

Do it. Your taste buds will thank me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Moving On

Well, around 1:30 yesterday, we finally got on the road. 15 bins didn't make it into storage and are instead at Hiney's. We stopped by Wiley's friend's house on our way to his parent's, and saw the baby and the new house. Both are beautiful. We got to our destination around 8:15 or so last night, and went to bed around 11. Everything is sore, especially my lower back and feet. The lower back pain is due to vacuuming the apartment with a Shop Vac, and especially cleaning up the mess made by the exploding mirror. I moved it to vacuum around it, and POOF! a million little pieces all over my floor. It was a fantastic shatter, but an ungodly mess to clean. But hey, one less thing to store, right?

Today, after I actually get up, my plan is to repack the suitcases so we only really have to deal with one suitcase. That means all four suitcases get to explode in the bedroom. Exploding items seems to be a theme...

And I'm really retired I think I'll get my happy a** back to bed for awhile longer.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ok, now that I know it works

Here's the new blog. Welcome to Scribblings from Sarajevo, brought to you by the same author as Oggi! Today! I decided to make a new blog and include Wiley in the ramblings. Technically, we should be saving posts for when we actually get over there, and between now and then, blogging will be brief, but I can say a few things:

First, moving sucks. I have been at it all day. Well, all week, but apparently I have a lot of shyt. My 8x10 storage area is just a wee bit small for all the bins I need to put in, so I have to leave some with my good friend Hiney. We moved the big stuff this morning thanks to our other good friends who I'll call Wedded Bliss 1, taking three hours instead of two (because I'm just really slow at this), and then I've just been packing while Wiley's been loading and unloading at the storage facility.

Second, I am catless, which also sucks. Last night we dropped off Rewind and Dixie, and let me just say that my ex is an a**hole. While he was nice and agreed to take Rewind because he knows what a handful he is, when I dropped him off yesterday with extra litter and food (partly because the vet didn't have 9 bags and partly because I figured they could just go get them since the girlfriend is up north sometimes anyway), after making us wait in the driveway while he finished talking to a client, he asked how long the food would last. When I told him it should last three months, he looked at me and said, "And are you going to give me money so I can get him more?" I said that the way the other people were handling it was that they'd bill me and I'd pay when I returned. We're talking about a CPA who makes well over the median salary - and he and GF can't afford $60 for three bags of food and to wait for it?? Come on. Get over yourself. I think he's regretting agreeing to watch Rewind. Suffice it to say, I was a wreck leaving there because of his a**holishness, so I beg of you, if you know of anyone who wants to watch a male cat, please let me know. Rewind has a bit of a history - he likes hands, so if you're not careful, he'll bite, but he's really quite affectionate. So so much for anyone else watching him....sigh. I went to the vet today and got some more food so His High A** won't get his panties in a bunch.

Dropping Dixie off was a much simpler and pleasant task. As soon as she saw Yippy Dog, she stayed perfectly still in my arms and when I put her down, ran promptly under the trunk and wouldn't come out. I've since learned that she can handle herself - she put the smack down on Yippy Dog, and when YD isn't around, she's been out around the pad, getting used to her surroundings.

All right, back to packing. I want to go to bed tonight before leaving for Arkansas in the late morning. Welcome aboard my train!