Posts Tagged ‘life’

Why Cats Don’t Fly

by: Corey

To begin with, we would both like to apologize for not writing this post much sooner.  As many of you already know, we landed in Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday October 13th for our 2 week + stay visiting Lisa’s parents.  After a couple of days  in Raleigh, Lisa came down with a pretty bad cold.  As soon as she started feeling better, I started to feel kind of crappy.  I don’t know what if was, cold/flu, but it was definitely not very much fun. As you can see, our trip of a life time didn’t exactly start as we would have hoped. On the bright side, we are both feeling much better and we both know we will face much more daunting obstacles in the near future.  Before I proceed, I also want to apologize for the lack of color in this post which will not contain any pictures.  We hope this will not happen t0o frequently in our future posts.

As many of you are already aware of, Lisa and I (mostly Lisa) have done a great deal of research and planning to get ready for this trip.  This entailed many, many hours on the computer looking at reviews on clothing/equipment, reading every interesting travel blog on the internet, and many other random tasks to get ready for what lies ahead.  One of these random tasks was taking our cat, Norma Jean, on a number of car rides to get her acclimated to moving in a vehicle.  We had originally planned on driving to Raleigh, but after looking at the cost to rent a car for the time that we would need it, we found that it made more sense to fly.  Outside of one bathroom accident, Norma was outstanding in the car.  She didn’t whine/cry, she got out of her carrier to walk around, and generally seemed to be enjoying herself.  After that first “accident” we began bringing the litter box along with us, just in case, but she never needed it and was fine on every car ride leading up to our departure. However, Lisa still felt a bit of trepidation about our big travel day, I was confident that Norma would be fine.

Let’s turn to our day of departure, Saturday October 13th.  We left my parents house around 4:45 AM for our flight that left Milwaukee at 6:30AM for our connection in Chicago.  Packed in my parent’s truck was my dad, mom, brother, Lisa, myself, and Norma in her brand new cat carrier.  On a side note, in order to bring a cat on a plane, you need to have a carrier that meets specific specifications to fit in under to seat in front of us.  This is where you’d put your normal carry-on.  Despite this fact, the airlines still charge $125 for her to fly which to us was just ridiculous.  I digress.  Now, when Lisa and I drove, it was always nice out and we made a concerted effort to drive nice and smooth.  This was not the case on this morning. First, it was pouring rain which Norma has always had a hard time with – thunder & lighting are her Kryptonite.  Secondly, my dad (it’s not your fault Dad) didn’t exactly make it the smoothest ride in history.  Despite some fidgety behavior on her part, Norma was pretty good on the way to the airport.  However, as we approached the airport, she started making noise and moving around a bunch.  As I tried to calm her and see what her deal was, I found the reason for her discomfort. I don’t know if it was the weather, the driving, the stress, or the over the counter sedative we tried giving her before we left, but Norma had thrown up.

As soon as we pulled up to the airport, Lisa and I quickly got our bags from the back of the truck and made a B-line for the nearest  bathroom.  We were hoping for a family bathroom with no luck.  Lisa ran into the Women’s restroom a couple of times to wet paper towel with water & soap and clean up what she could as I held a struggling, scared Norma.  Lisa made quick work of cleaning the cat carrier , we forced Norma back in her carrier, and entered the ticketing line as quickly as possible.  Our plane was leaving in less than an hour so time wasn’t exactly on our side.  We were both a little shaking and nervous.  After about a minute in line, I started to smell something kind of foul.  At about that same time, I hear Norma start to squeaking and meowing, I turned to Lisa and said, “Do you smell that?”  I wasn’t the only one with a foul odor in my nose.  I lifted Norma’s carrier, turned it to side, and found the source of the stench.  It was a fresh, logged shaped cat poop.  By this point Norma was trying her best to scratch her way out of the carrier and I don’t blame her.  Lisa and I looked at each other and Lisa said, “It’s fine, we’re going to be fine!”  It must be said, that my wife was trying her hardest to remain calm, but it was a bit difficult considering the circumstance we found ourselves in!

We couldn’t get through that line fast enough. Fortunately, no one, including the United employee who checked us in, seemed to notice our plight.  If they did, they didn’t find it necessary to embarrass us.  Once we dropped our checked bags off, we wound my parents and brother.  Although there was supposed to be sadness because we were leaving, they found our problem pretty amusing.  We finally did find that Family Bathroom that we were looking for and again did our best to clean Norma and her carrier up. When we were done, we had just enough time to say goodbye to my parents and my brother.  We got through security without incident, found our gate, and got a few minutes to relax our nerves.  Norma settled down, although be were both waiting for her to complete the trifecta and pee all over her carrier.  Lucky for us, that didn’t happen.  Both of our flights, our lay over in Chicago, and our drive from the airport to Lisa’s parents went off without incident.

We have now been in Raleigh for the past 11 days.  Norma Jean acclimated herself to her new home pretty well.  She only scratches on her new scratching post, she is constantly acting like an idiot (chasing her tail or imaginary objects), and is very curious about the goings on in her grandparents room.  For us it has been nice, despite our illnesses, to relax and get everything prepared for our up coming journey.  It wasn’t optimal, but I think our cat flying experience was a good precursor to help us prepare for dealing with the unexpected situations that we’ll be facing in our upcoming months on the road.

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Silverstein “Stinky” Waller”
June 25, 2007 – April 23, 2012

A few weeks after we got married we got Norma Jean at the Waukesha County Human Society.  After a couple of months of it just being the two of us and Norma, we decided to get her a playmate.  We, the weird people that we admittedly tend to be, came up with a name for our new cat before we even walked into the Milwaukee County Human Society’s doors.  Silverstein, after the band Silverstein which is named after the poet Shel Silverstein.  This was the name Lisa first came up with and Corey loved immediately.  So as we roamed the halls of the humane society we found ourselves looking for a silver/gray cat.  They had a few, however, there was a feisty little one with tiger striping that looked pretty cool.  He was the one and we brought him home. 

Now there are two ways to introduce cats.  The right way: is to lock the new cat in a separate room and let them kind of get used to each other’s smells and then give them short times together, again to allow them to both get comfortable.  And the wrong way: is to walk in the front door, open the new cat’s carrier, and see what happens.  Poor Norma.  We choose the second way. The second Silverstein got out, he began chasing Norma all over the house, generally beating the crap out of her.  After a couple of hours of this we both began to become worried that maybe this wasn’t going to work.  We went to work the next morning hoping that by the time we got home things would have settled down at least a bit.  Luckily, they did.  When Corey got home the next afternoon the two cats were taking a nap together, best friends after a night of all out war.  One thing was very apparent after that first night.  This was Silverstein’s house.

Throughout his life Corey has had quite a few cats.  Not one of them has come even close to touching Silverstein and his incredible personality.  From his loud mouth purring to the place he choose to spend his nights, wrapped around Corey’s head even if that meant forcing him off the pillow.  Silverstein always made his presence felt.  He liked to play it up like he was a real tough guy, but reality didn’t quite match up.  He would always be the first to greet Corey when he came home, unless he thought it was a stranger and he ran away to hide under a chair.  One time we brought a dozen balloons home for one of Lisa’s picture projects and left to do some errands.  We came home to find Silverstein hiding in the kitchen drawer with all the measuring cups and spoons.  We have now idea how he managed to squeeze his fat body in there or why he was so afraid of those balloons.

When he played, he really liked it rough.  Corey could push him to the ground and roughhouse him and he would just lay there purring, happy as could be.  Sometimes Corey would even put his face in jumping range over Silverstein.  He’d jump up and hit Corey with both paws in the face, claws in because he didn’t want to hurt Corey.  

He hated company.  He usually would either hide somewhere in the bedroom or, if he was feeling brave, walk around and hiss at any stranger that got too close.  We originally tried to bring the cats up to Corey’s parents’ for holidays, but Silverstein ended that because he always ended up under a couch, hissing at people.  I guess to others he must have seemed like a big jerk, but he wasn’t like that with us.  I think that’s what made Silverstein so loveable.  He hated everyone, but loved the three of us so much.

One month ago, on April 23, 2012, we had to say goodbye to our little boy cat.  To be honest, it’s been a rough month emotionally trying to get on with a life that doesn’t include Silverstein. Some people may think it’s silly to mourn a cat, but he was one of our best friends & it’s weird to think that it’s just the three of us now: Corey, Lisa & Norma Jean.

Back in January, Silverstein started throwing up and losing his appetite.  We took him to the vet, where they put him on a couple of medications which seemed to do the trick.  He seemed like he was back to normal.  Unfortunately, this didn’t last for very  long.  Within a couple of months his previous symptoms returned, but worse  this time around.  Corey also found a weird peapod-like object in the litter box.  It could have been from either of our cats, but we assumed that it was probably from him since he wasn’t feeling well. 

 Lisa noticed blood in his stool one morning while getting ready for work & that freaked both of us out.  Obviously concerned, we brought him back to the vet, where they insisted on saying that it was probably the same thing from January & prescribed the same medication.  If, after that, he still wasn’t better, then they’d do x-rays and blood work.

After that second visit to the vet his appetite plummeted.  We tried every cat food we could find & even caved in, giving him our food: tuna, deli meat, ground turkey, anything to get him to eat.  After attempting to get him in for blood work & x-rays on a Saturday morning with no luck, the vet suggested we buy some AD to nourish him over the weekend and then get him tested the following Tuesday.  We weren’t keen on this plan, but weren’t sure what other options we had.  So, we bought the AD, which is soluble cat food that’s supposed to have an appealing aroma, in hopes that Silverstein would get something in his system.  It didn’t work.

On Sunday morning, April 22nd, we brought him to a 24 hour animal hospital in our area.  By the afternoon we learned that he probably had liver disease.  They kept him overnight & the next morning learned that not only did he have liver disease, but that his small intestine & pancreas were probably infected.  They’d have to do more tests and he’d have to wear an esophageal feeding tube for at least 3 months.  At that point the doctor was going over the costs of all these procedures and we realized we had to let him go.  Around 11:30 that Monday morning we held him while he slipped away. 

Some of Lisa’s co-workers have suggested getting a new cat, but they can’t seem to grasp just how special he was to us.  Have you ever met a cat who purred when you put him in a dress?  Or who smelled something stinky & went back not for one, but two sniffs?  Or whose preferred relaxation method was on his back?  That was Silverstein!  Not a day goes by that we don’t miss him and while we wish we had more time with him, at least we got 5 great years with our baby boy!  

Rest in peace Stinky

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We’ve been married for four years today!  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already, but we’re excited to see what our fifth year of marriage will bring!  Exactly one year from today we’ll either know or be in our first destination for our big trip.  Pretty cool, huh? 

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

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It’s not like this is the first time we’ve ever traveled anywhere, but it is the first time that we were actively looking for ways to improve our travel style.  I decided to do a test drive with both my main pack & my day pack, while Corey just did a test drive with his daypack.  We’re happy to report that we love all three items so far, but it was also a small trip!  But, here are the top 5 things we took away from our trip:

1 – Pack More Efficiently:  For starters, we were only in Raleigh for 13 days & we both overpacked!  We each took 1 to many pairs of shoes (Lisa: 3 & Corey: 2), too many books (Lisa: 4, Corey: 6 – though I did read 4 books, 3 of them were my mom’s & Corey also read 3), I took a bunch of nice clothes (1 set was worn to church) & Corey took way too many t-shirts.  We also ended up bringing our own bodywash, but my parents provided that for us.  I can only imagine all the weight that this extra stuff added to our load!   

2 – Patience:  Without a doubt we always end up near the screaming kid or farting man or nosey chick on our flights.  It’s something we have come to terms with, however, that doesn’t make our travel days very enjoyable.  And, it always seems to happen at the beginning of our trip, because the 2 flights from Raleigh back to Milwaukee were hassel-free.  Anyway, from MKE to EWR (Newark) I had the excited 4-year-old kicking my seat, while Corey had the farting man in front of him & from EWR to RDU we both had kicking kids behind us.  Another 4-year-old behind Corey & then mom was behind me with an infant on her lap, while dad was across the aisle yelling at his wife to control the kids. So not cool!  

3 – Stick to the Budget:  We actually get a silver star this year, but that’s only when you compare it to how badly we did last year!   We went to Raleigh in 2009 where we had a crazy shopping spree, buying jeans, shirts, movies (dvds & theater) & books.  To top it off we hit all of my favorite restaurants!  We were absolutely ridiculous!  This year we still went to my favorite restaurants, bought 4 books (2 each) & saw 5 movies (How do you Know, True Grit, The Fighter, Black Swan & Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows for the 3rd time), but paid for 3; my parents paid for the other 2.  I realize that some people would still see this as a lot, but besides all the eating out, this is what we enjoy doing while we’re home, so it just makes sense to do the same with our family during the holidays.

4 – Take (More) Pictures:  For anyone who doesn’t know, I majored in photography & I used to be one of those people who brought my camera with me everywhere. . . I mean that, EVERYWHERE!  So, I brought my camera with me & had intentions of keeping it on my person during our trip.  But, I took zero pictures.  You read that right: zip, nada, zilch!  I’m so angry with myself & this is definitely something we both need to work on considering that we plan to bring 2 cameras (1 nice, 1 point & shoot) for the big trip.  Photo score for this trip: F.

5 – Love Each Day: While we weren’t watching movies, playing video games or reading, we were enjoying each other’s company.  It sucks that we only get to see each other once a year & I think it’s important to enjoy the little things because our time together is so short.  We all had a great time & I think one could argue that there’s never enough time, so A++ for not taking it for granted!  Too bad we don’t have teleporters like the Jetsons!  

Now, we have a better idea of what to expect for our next trip.  We’ll be putting more effort into packing less & sticking to the budget, while packing an extra case of patience for the crazies we will inevitably encounter while on the road.  We hope that everyone had a Happy New Year and that this next year brings joy & happiness!

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 We had our first couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org) experience last night.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, couchsurfing is a way to meet other people who share their love for traveling and adventure.  There are 2 ways to do that: either travel to someone’s home or be a host.  Hosting can be offering up your couch for someone to spend the night(s) or you can just meet up for drinks.  At some point I think we will change our user settings so that our couch is available, but right now it’s just on the “meet for coffee or drinks” setting.    



  So, it all started a week ago when a girl sent me a message asking if I wanted to hang out while she was in town.  I took a look at her profile, saw her references & decided to have her over for dinner.  Pauline is a student from Belgium who decided to come to Wisconsin for a bit before going back to school in a couple of weeks.  She arrived on August 10th & has already seen & done more than I have living here for 3 years!   

Pauline & I


  We had a good time talking to her about travelling, photography, biking & the weird laws that Americans have.  One example: getting in trouble for having an open container in your car.  If this same scenario happened in Belgium, as long as you weren’t drinking & driving, you’d be free to go on your merry way.  Here you’d go to jail for the night.  We don’t drink at all, which I thought she would find strange.  But Pauline said that compared to her hometown, people here hardly drink.  I found that funny, because people drink so much more here (in the Milwaukee area) than they do in Raleigh!  Anyway, it was just really nice to meet someone who was so nice & happy to meet new people.  Pauline said that it was refreshing to meet many Americans & be able to see that we’re not all loud, obnoxious & ignorant.   Overall, we had a great time & I hope that we’re able to hang out with her again before she leaves!   

Pauline, me & Corey


So, we have taken our first baby steps into the world of couchsurfing.  Pauline already knew the family she was staying with & they were having such a hard time understanding why she would meet with strangers in place she hasn’t been to before.  I think that Americans are taught not to trust anybody & always keep your guard up.  I’m not saying that every person we will encounter won’t be dangerous, but not every stranger is a criminal either.  I definitely want to have a few more visits like this before we decide to have people over for a weekend or more.  But, we have to start somewhere & in order to meet people we’re going to need to be more social.  Wish us luck!

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We’re on a journey to travel around the world, but first things first: let’s save some money!

So, our first post will just be an introduction.  My name is Lisa and my husband’s name is Corey & we live in Wisconsin.  Corey was born & raised here, but I was born in New Jersey, raised in North Carolina & got suckered into moving up north after we got married.  We both hate being cold, but it just made more sense for me to move to WI.  That being said our ultimate route would be to track down summer & stay warm!

We’ve been unsuccessfully saving money since 2007 for our big trip.  How big you ask, a huge trip around the world!  We finally got a hold on our finances at the beginning of the year & we believe we’ll have enough money to do our dream vacation by 2012.  Estimated date of departure: August 2012.

So, wish as luck as we continue to save & hopefully reach our goal to travel to 5 other continents.  (sorry, antarctica, you didn’t make the cut!)

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