Monthly Archives: August 2012

Packing Light

For my trip, I’ll be taking only what I can carry on the plane….for about a three and half week long trip.  This video shows a good method for packing!


Sookie’s New Accomplishment

New cat Sookie is now a year old (she was a rescue cat, so we’re not sure of her exact birthday) and finally, she’s toilet trained.  What a stubborn cat she was!  We’ve never had so much trouble with a cat.  She learned to pee on the toilet perfectly – no problem at all – it was the other she had issues with.

If you’ve never heard of toilet training a cat, let me show you this youtube video.  (Not my cat, obviously!)

Luckily for Sookie, we’re even more stubborn than she is!  And today, for the first time, she jumped up all by herself with no coaxing and used the toilet like an old pro.  Hurrah!!!!!!!   I will not have a litter box in my house, unless there’s a health reason, like the cat is too elderly or sick to balance on the toilet.  Litter boxes are so unsanitary!  They stink, they are messy because the cat tracks litter all over, and all that litter costs a mint over a cat’s lifetime.   Now that’s Sookie’s trained, all I have to do is walk by now and then and flush the toilet.  I could teach her to flush, but I worry she’d flush all the time, for fun!

Sookie has been a very difficult cat all around, because she had serious trust issues.

First, because she was a rescue cat.  She didn’t dislike people, but she didn’t see what they had to do with her.  Secondly, she was very sick for a couple of months after we got her, and we had to ‘torture’ her by putting drops in her eyes, and medicine down her throat.  She hated that, and it was all the vet’s fault.  They gave her live vaccine, and she came down with what they vaccinated her against.   Plus, when we took her back to the vet, he said the vaccine wasn’t live.  I said I’d looked it up on the internet, and it was.  He went off on a rant against people looking up information for themselves on the internet, because the information was ‘always wrong’.  I said I’d gone directly to the official vaccine website, to the section where they explained to the vets what their vaccine was, and how to use it.   Not only did the vaccine website say it was a live vaccine, it warned that the cats can catch the illness from it, and to watch for that.  It also said never to give that vaccine on the same day as you gave another sort of vaccine, and guess what?  The vet had done that as well!  No wonder Sookie got sick.  We won’t be going back to that vet ever again!

But finally, a year later, Sookie is finally allowing us to hold her for brief periods, and has stopped looking at us with a perpetual look of wariness.  And she’s using the toilet!  I now have hopes that she’s forgetting her horrible early life, and will grow into a loving cat.

And her ‘bunny tail’ is something she was born with.  We don’t know who the dad was, but he must have been a Manx.  The other kittens in the family had unusual tails too.

Travel Journal

I’ve been keeping my eye open for the perfect travel journal for my trip to England/Egypt…and by “keeping my eye open”, I mean spending literally hours online shopping on Etsy, Ebay, and Google.

I thought at first I wanted something specifically Egyptian-looking, but there are very few Egyptian-themed journals out there, and none at all that I liked.  So then I broadened the search.  I knew a few things it had to have:

1) It had to have some sort of buckle or catch to keep it closed.  I’m going to be stuffing all sorts of loose items in there, like ticket stubs, and I don’t want them to easily fall out.  I also don’t like the type that has a thin lace or strip of leather that wraps around to hold it closed.  I used one of those once, and you just can’t lace them tightly enough to keep things secure.  I love the journals that have a built-in elastic band to hold the book closed, but I didn’t want something so modern for this particular journal.

2) I wanted something that looked old-world.  Leather, or wood.

3) I wanted something sturdy, that would hold up to wear and only look better if it gets accidentally distressed.

4) I wanted something totally unique, and something that seemed ‘me’.  If it was sold at Amazon, it probably wasn’t going to cut it – although I did search Amazon as part of my quest.

I found some amazing journals.  Like this one:

It’s made of WOOD, and the pages are 80 year-old reclaimed paper.  I love it.  It’s wonderful.  But ultimately, it’s just too small, and I have questions about how easy it would be to travel with.

This journal was the stand-out front runner for quite awhile.

But alas, no buckle either, and this one is actually a squidge too big.

But then I found this one, on Etsy.  It’s handmade, in the Philippines.  It’s leather, it has buckles, it’s totally different from everything else I was finding.  And, it calls out to me.  It wants to go to Egypt with me.

It fits all of my requirements.  So Reader, I bought it.


Another thing I’d love to do in England is spend a day learning about – and actually flying – various birds of prey.  Including owls.  It must be the most amazing thing to have an owl come swooping in and land on your glove!

There are a bunch of falconry centers that offer these days…now I just need to find one close to where I’ll be…this is a must-do!!!

Hardwick Hall

I think Paris is pretty much out of the picture, as far as the 2015 trip is concerned.  I should have realized: England is my true love, and there’s no reason why I can’t have a stop-over there on my to Egypt AND my way back home!

So….new pre-Egypt plan:
Arrive at Heathrow airport, and take the bus directly from the airport to Bath.  I adore Bath.  I was there, once, for a few hours, and I need to return.  It’s the perfect get-over-jet-lag city.  A couple of days in Bath is just the thing I want, with the addition of a day-trip to the Cotswolds!   I’ve even found a perfect place to stay…probably. I’m torn between the various options.  This is what is so cool about cities outside of London.  For the same price as a teeny, tiny hotel room in London, I can have all of this!

A fully furnished (with books, even!) one bedroom apartment, right in the center of town.

Look at the kitchen!  Complete with dishes and tea kettle!  And, I’m told, the owner stocks the fridge with enough food for a few simple breakfasts.

I love the bathroom sink.

And for my post-Egypt plans, I thought of a wonderful day-trip that just HAS to happen.  I’ve been researching my ancestors, and my absolute favorite direct-blood ancestor is Bess of Hardwick.  She was personal friends with Queen Elizabeth I – so much so that when Elizabeth needed her cousin Mary Queen of Scots held prisoner, Bess was trusted to do the job in Bess’ own home.

Bess was an amazing woman, and an example of how women of different eras weren’t confined by their sex, regardless of what some historians would like us to believe.  Bess was a remarkable woman, who built a remarkable house when she was in her 70s.  This house, Hardwick Hall.

(ps…the exterior was also used as the Malfoy house in the Harry Potter films!)

The house is open for tours, as is the ruins of the first Hardwick Hall (where Mary Queen of Scots was held).

Ruins are pretty awesome too.

I’m totally taking a day-trip from London; how cool will it be to stand in the ‘family home’?  I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before.