31 December 2006
Since then, we have not had good luck with rental cars.
We ordered a minivan for our stay in Cleveland so it would be easier transporting 5 adults and possibly more about the Cleveland area. When we arrived late on December 22, Avis had run out of minivans and we were left with a Chevy Suburban. My apartment in New York City was smaller than this vehicle. Plus I was embarrassed to ride in it. It just screamed "I don't care about the environment!" Not a message that we wish to project. But it was late and we were tired.
The next day in the light of the morning sun we noticed it was actually quite dirty on the inside and had a very large grease stain on one of the seats. Once we discovered Hertz had minivans available, we swapped for what we reserved in the first place.
When we got back to Kansas City on December 28 the Subaru Outback we were assigned was dirty. When we started to drive away, we noticed there was a loud grinding sound every time we stepped on the brake. We took it back and received a Ford Equinox instead. It was filthy and smelled bad. Once again we complained. Another Outback was just being turned in. Although it was dirty, it seemed in good shape and we accepted it. Apparently they didn't want to send a newer car in good condition on a one way trip to another location in Minneapolis.
We spent all day Friday toting things to storage or to Goodwill or to the hotel where we stayed. Friday evening the "Check Engine" light came on and the "Cruise Control" light began to flash.
We literally spent several hours trying to contact Hertz to have this taken care of. Thankfully we weren't stuck by the side of the road because calling the Roadside Assistance number did nothing!
Finally this morning we were able to exchange the Outback for a nearly new Toyota RAV4, the size being necessary for all the things we had to take to Minnesota. In fact, it is so nice that GLH is now trying to convince me that it would be a very practical car for Switzerland.
Thus far it is running well, doesn't smell bad, has no flashing indicator lights and no suspicious stains. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing develops before we turn it in at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport on Wednesday!
Posted from Mom and Dad's house in Minnesota...
29 December 2006
Book Geek that I am, all I wanted for Christmas was a Sony E-Reader. And GLH, sweetie that he is, got it for me.
This way I can download books from a selection of thousands to a portable reader. It can hold up to 50-80 titles at a time (depending upon length and graphics.) I've been playing with it and it is fabulous. Cannot wait to get our computers set up again so I can start downloading titles!
22 December 2006
The last week has passed in a rush. Every day has been filled to the brim with last dinners with friends and appointments and hurried telephone calls and always the organizing and purging and packing.
Our lives have been so busy that I have only just realized that we will be leaving our first home together. And that realization is keeping me awake.
I've known that it would happen. But it wasn't until I walked through our nearly empty house that it struck me that tonight would be our last night in our home. And it is likely to be a while before our new apartment in a new city and a new country feels like "home."
Because it is not just the leaving that is keeping me awake, but the arriving as well. Combined with the sadness is a roller coaster of emotion including excitement, anticipation, anxiety and a whirling array of "To Do" Lists.
Hold onto your hats, Girls and Boys, it's bound to be a wild ride...
20 December 2006
18 December 2006
17 December 2006
Our house was featured in the Realty section of the newspaper. This will bring exposure to the house and hopefully bring someone who will buy it.
There was a misprint in the newspaper. We found out at 5:30 this evening that our house will be having an open house. Tomorrow!!!
We are in the midst of sorting through all of our worldly possessions to decide what goes to Switzerland, what goes to storage and what goes to charity. It is an ugly, messy process.
We will be up most of the night pulling our house into order.
If we don't end up with a reasonable offer as a result, I think I will probably cry...
16 December 2006
Good-bye, Acura. You were a good car and we will miss you. I am certain that the people at the dealership will find you a nice, new family with whom you can share your road trips.
We are holding on to the Subaru Outback for a few more days and then selling it to my former boss, T. We still have boxes to haul out to our storage unit and the Subaru is definitely more practical for that!
Then on Friday, the Outback will also be gone and we will be without a car until we get around to buying one in Switzerland. Although with the public transport in Zurich, there is no rush.
15 December 2006
Normally I wouldn't open such e-mails as they are usually spam, but this time I did. And generally I delete such e-mails immediately because it is usually a scam. But this time I read through it and it actually looked legitimate. So I called Shutterfly directly to verify its authenticity.
Turns out that when I ordered our Christmas cards this year (featuring photos I had taken during the year), I was automatically entered into the sweepstakes. And I actually won!
GLH is trying to say that "we won."
However, as I was the one who took the photos, designed the card, ordered the cards, addressed all the cards, included our change of address information, affixed the return labels and stamps and so on, I am claiming the prize as my own.
I won! I won! I won!!!
But I might allow him to use the camera occasionally if he asks really nicely.
This morning I saw something new. A television commercial that asks "Where Would Jesus Shop"?
Apparently Jesus would not shop at Wal-Mart. At least, not according to the commercial paid for by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
Regardless of which side you stand on the Wal-Mart is Good or Evil Line, ya gotta admit that this is a bizarre marketing pitch...
On Monday afternoon GLH and I went to the Post Office to overnight express our passports, visa pre-approval documents and a prepaid overnight express envelope (to return it all) to the Swiss Consulate in Chicago. We were assured it would arrive on Tuesday by 10 am.
We went online Tuesday evening to make certain it arrived. Not yet.
Again, no arrival on Wednesday.
Today (Thursday) I called the USPS National Customer Service Line and asked where the package might be. They really weren't quite sure. But they would certainly look for it. And, of course, we would receive a refund for the postage.
I am not one to use obscenities, but a string of choice ones immediately left my mouth...
GLH and I then sprang into action. GLH googled what we needed to do to replace our passports as soon as possible. I called the local post office and spoke with a stellar postal employee who was much more helpful and understanding of the enormity of the situation. There was much racing about the house looking for documents and an emergency call to my mother looking for my birth certificate.
Thirty minutes later my parents were poised to drive an hour to the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minnesota (my birth place) to get a replacement birth certificate and GLH was on the telephone with Visa Express.
We received a telephone call from the wonderful employee at the local post office saying they had spoken with someone at the post office in Chicago. Apparently a large batch of express mail had been overlooked amidst all the Christmas packages and someone had been sent to deliver them immediately. They weren't certain , but it's possible our package was in that batch.
Another hour of nail-biting and we received a second telephone call from the kind gentleman at the local post office. Yes indeed, our package had been located and delivered. He was very, very sorry and we would be reimbursed for the cost of the express mail.
We are just thankful that the package was found and delivered. 'Cause I am pretty darn sure the post office would not have reimbursed us for the several hundred dollars it would have cost to replace our passports in a few days and then pay a service to take them by hand to the Swiss Consulate, wait for the visa to be completed and then deliver them back to us. Which is what we were looking at given the short time frame left before the move.
Keep your fingers crossed that we get the package with our finalized visas and passports back. It will be coming back through the United States Postal Service. And it will be competing with Christmas packages for attention.
Meanwhile, we still haven't received a follow-up telephone call from the not-so-helpful national customer service office...
13 December 2006
So, I am hoping that someone out there in Blogger Land might know something.
GLH and I are seeking information on the foreign adoption process in Switzerland. From the research I have done, it appears to be somewhere between immensely difficult and completely impossible for an American couple to adopt while living in Switzerland. (The Swiss Bureaucracy favors Swiss couples first and European couples second. All other couples are a very distant third.)
If anyone knows an American couple living in Switzerland who were successful in a foreign adoption we would very much like to hear from them. Or if you know of a reputable Swiss lawyer who specializes in adoption, that would also be helpful. We can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you in advance for any help you can offer...
12 December 2006
Regardless, I told him that from now on when flying for business, he could fly first class. But there are some conditions:
1. When flying from the US to Europe, we need to schedule a long enough layover on the US side for me to get a meal before we board the flight. That way I can take a sleeping pill as soon as I am on the plane and wake up refreshed when we get to Europe the next morning. (Waiting for the meal on the flight doesn't allow time to sleep off the effects of the pill.)
2. If we can easily upgrade my seat, I fly with him in first class.
When I told him the news, he tried not to act gleeful. I asked him if to a certain extent he had put on an act to convince me how horrible it was for him in coach.
"I refuse to answer as it may incriminate me..."
Earlier this evening GLH and I drove through the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Standing on a street corner was a familiar sight -- a panhandler holding a sign with her sob story and asking for money.
Only this time, the panhandler held the sign backwards. Instead of displaying her sob story, what you saw was the empty carton of Busch Beer. There's never been more truth in advertising. Any donation would likely have procured exactly that!
GLH and I were laughing so hard we almost caused an accident.
11 December 2006
While in Zurich we were very busy preparing the apartment for our move on January 4th. But I did have time on Thursday afternoon for a quick visit to the Zurich Christmas Market with L, whose husband works with my husband. The big Christmas Market is inside the Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station), which isn't perhaps quite as romantic as it could be. But it does makes sense given how much rain Zurich tends to receive.
For me the highlight of the market was the enormous Swarovski Tree...
Although I was slightly disappointed at how difficult it was to locate Christmas ornaments among the booths selling things you could purchase at any time throughout the year. You really had to hunt for them. However, I did find some beautiful and unique ones.
Last week we finished the major furniture shopping expedition. There are still a few things we'll need to get. But the bulk of the furniture is in place and ready to go.
Most of the furniture came from either Interio (the Swiss version of Pottery Barn) or Ikea. And usually it came in a cardboard box and needed to be put together. GLH and I are completely exhausted. And GLH is certain he has "Screwdriver Elbow." Very similar to "Tennis Elbow," it is caused by the repetitive motion of screwing in many, many, many little screws. Of course, it wasn't until three days into the construction project that we found out that a drill is relatively inexpensive. The final pieces we put together, went together much faster.
By far the hardest piece to do was the Wardrobe. And we got two of them. One for the entryway for coats and the other for the guest room. There were 32 separate and distinct steps involved in putting together each one. We have decided when guests come to visit that not only will they be required to put all of their clothing into the wardrobe, but they must also sit and admire it for at least 10 minutes. Blood was shed in the construction of it.
02 December 2006
Since the house is still on the market, I wanted to give it a quick clean and vacuum in case they show it while we are gone. I set the alarm clock early enough to accomplish all that needs to be done.
In the middle of doing the living room, the vacuum starts to smoke and a terrible smell quickly fills the entire house. I immediately turn it off. And find underneath a smoke stain on the pale beige carpet. (Thank God, there isn't an actual burn mark or scorched carpet. That would have required replacing the carpet.)
Why does the vacuum cleaner have to die mere weeks before we leave the country?
Why do we need to suddenly discover we are out of carpet cleaner?
Why does all of this have to happen on the morning before we go to the airport.
We'll be back on December 10th.
01 December 2006
We're staying at the apartment and do not yet have internet access. Therefore, there will likely be no postings during the week.
We'll catch everyone up on the happenings when we return!
Riding around the city, listening to Christmas music, we saw many beautiful, tasteful displays...
And some not as tasteful, but exuberant displays...