Saturday, December 20, 2008

Our 2008 Christmas Letter

Our fridge is waiting for this year's updates of your Christmas photos!

So here it is...

2007 was supposed to be our travel year, but you wouldn’t know it to look at our 2008 itinerary. Much of this year was also spent hop-scotching from state-to-state, city-to-city, and town-to-town. However, we did stay closer to home, and for the record, we did go back to work.

Our goal for 2008 was to find a good job for Case and a good home for Jolene. This may sound easy, but it’s not. When you’re halfway through your career (as Case is), your definition of a “good job” can get pretty specific. And when you were been born and raised in California and have just spent a year following your vagabond husband across the planet (as Jolene has), your definition of “good home” starts with “in California”.

Fortunately, we have a perfectly good home in California, though without any good jobs for Case in the immediate vicinity. So, for the first few months of the year, Jolene found temporary work in Fullerton, while Case took temp assignments wherever available to pay the bills while he worked on turning up jobs in California.

In fact, you might say that, for the first three months of 2008, we lived in Fullerton and commuted to work, each of us choosing the job and commute most typical of our personality. Jolene quite naturally found a dental hygiene job just five-minutes scooter ride from our home in Fullerton.

Jolene at home on her favorite mode of transport

Case, on the other hand, found a winter posting in Mitchell, South Dakota, a four-hour commercial plane flight away. On the weekdays, Case enjoyed “real” winter weather and super-friendly people in small-town Mitchell, South Dakota (home of the "Corn Palace"). On weekends, he enjoyed Southern California’s weather with Jolene.

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
(Taken the one weekend Case didn't fly home to California)

April and May found us at home in Fullerton full-time. This was, I hasten to add, completely unplanned. First, a California job Case had been arranging fell
through at the last minute, and then his next temp job took a month longer than expected to come through. Although it was pretty hard on the budget, this was an awfully nice change from being apart five days a week.

In the end, the temp job in New Mexico came through. The wait was worth it, as this job was close enough to Fullerton for him to fly himself home for the weekends! He spent the last couple weeks of our time at home in Fullerton getting his “instrument rating”, so that he could be more certain the weather wouldn’t leave him stranded between home and work.

Case loads up to fly home from Las Cruces in his favorite mode of transport

About the time Case started flying to New Mexico for work, Jolene’s temp work in Fullerton began to wind down. As Jack had begun complaining about being left out of
all our travels, Jolene decided to take him to see New Mexico. (Jack has refused to accept our excuse that he was simply too heavy for our backpacks during our 2007 travels.)

White Sands Nat'l Monument, New Mexico
(near Las Cruces)

So, from mid-June through mid-September, we became a traveling family, spending the weekdays working in Las Cruces, NM, and most weekends at home in Fullerton. Case claims to love being at home in Fullerton just as much Jolene, but Jolene is pretty sure he loves it even more when he has to fly to get there. (So long as his food dish is kept full and he gets enough petting, Jack loves it all.)

Jack will go anywhere in plane or car; the scooter is another matter...

Of course, in the background, behind all the travel for temp jobs, our search for a permanent job and home continued apace. Although it seems like Case could travel and do temp work indefinitely, he was ready to settle down, too, and we took lots of smaller trips to interview at various places. In fact, Las Cruces was looking for permanent help and we might have ended up staying there, except that a position suddenly became available in Palm Springs. California!!!

So mid-September found us catching the last of the summer heat in Palm Springs!

Palm Springs warmth allows Jolene to enjoy the full benefit of having a convertible

Case went to work on a contract basis while he negotiated a permanent agreement with
the hospital – a process involving many lawyers, multiple contracts, the occasional nose-to-nose “discussion”, and (needless to say) considerable expense. With luck, everything was supposed to be signed before December. Then, about the time the agreements went to “corporate” for review and any whimsical edits the lawyers might choose to insert, a friend called to offer us a job on the Central California Coast.

Sunset on the Central California Coast -- attractive, no?

Hmmm… No lawyers, no debt, better hours, and a good shot at making partner after 2 years. What’s not to like? Case had stopped soliciting interviews for alternative positions, but as he says, “I wasn’t going to refuse to look at something that came looking for me.” Within two-and-a-half weeks, we had visited, interviewed, negotiated, and signed. (As with courtship & marriage, these things don’t seem to take long when it’s “the right one”.)

We’ve spent December finding a rental home in Arroyo Grande and putting our Fullerton home up for rent. (Know anyone???) January 2009, will find us living a lot closer to the beach than we ever expected to be!!!

Our new digs in Arroyo Grande

Case expects to be busy at work, and for the first little while, Jolene will be busy unpacking our rapidly-moved
possessions and trying to create some semblance of a home.

As always, there was a lot more to our year, and many more stories to tell than are even on the blog, but hopefully this sketch will give a framework for those with the temerity to dip into the blog. For the other stories… well, come see us and we’ll go for a walk and a talk on the beach! Our welcome mat will be out shortly!

At the beach...

Merry Christmas!

-- Case and Jolene

One more sunset photo (can you blame us?)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keeping it Simple!

With a move just a week away we've been thinking more of wrapping up our belongings then wrapping Christmas presents. And while this Christmas we're keeping it simple and saving up our energy for a Christmas move, we've still added a little cheer to our desert digs with a holiday wreath, pointsettia plant and Christmas cards.

I love giving and receiving cards. With Case having completed many of the details to organizing and arranging the move, I spent the day charging my batteries to execute next weeks move by connecting with family and friends via Christmas cards. The day flew by jotting notes to friends and family.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Political Humor....

Well, I think we’re still going to end up on the Central California Coast in January. Just about everything is arranged: The contract is signed, our realtor will rent out our Fullerton house and manage it for us, we’ve got a moving company, Case found two airports with available hangar space near our new home (a critical point in selling him on the location), and I’ve already decided how I’m going to arrange our furniture once we arrive.

But now it’s all looking pretty shaky. Politics and the economy are to blame. Actually, mostly politics.

You see, according to Case, we’re leveraged out just as far as Lehman Bros, our balance sheet doesn’t look any better than AIG’s, and our mortgage is about as solvent the ones in Merrill Lynch’s portfolio. Oh, and he says our 13-year-old car is worth about as much as a new GM, and it’s about as reliable. So anyway, based upon these conclusive indications of impending fiscal collapse, he applied to Congress for a bail out. And they refused! Can you believe it? Everyone else is getting one -- why not us?

So he says maybe it’s time to go back on the road. He says there are still a few countries out there that don’t have an extradition treaty with the United States, and it’s time to “liquid-ize our fungible assets” and “relocate our strategic operations to a more favorable environment” (i.e. grab our cash and run for it).

Now, this may surprise you, but I’m actually thinking that sounds pretty good. I’m about as frosted with the government as he is. Until recently, I had everything set up with Blagojevich, and was just laying low until he appointed me to Barak's Senate seat. Then the FBI goes and advertises the deal, and now the price has been bid up way out of my range.

I’m going to ask Case if they speak English in any of those countries. If not, maybe we’ll stay. I can always pawn his plane and buy Hillary’s Senate seat in a couple months. Don’t worry; after I get to Congress, I’ll get Case his bail-out, and he’ll be able to get a better plane. I hear the Big Three CEOs have some jets for sale.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Finally! A "Real" Job & a Home

We're finally settling down to one job and one place! We've been two years on the road (Case managed to squeeze in a "bonus year" beyond the year of travel we'd initially planned), so it's about time! The job is in Santa Maria, on the Central California Coast, and this is the house we will be renting. (For photos of the area, refer back to our November postings; that was our job interview trip.)

We spent the last two Sundays looking for a rental home in the area, and found this one in Arroyo Grande, CA. Here's a little tour, for those with sufficient interest... (For the rest of you, you'll want to know that the weather is mild year-round, we're on a golf course, we're 15 minutes from the beach, and we have spare bedrooms!)
The entry area
& kitchen
with a living room and fire place just off the kitchen.
A sun room
with a view
to the fifth green.

Case is deep into planning the move, and we're both happy to have found a home! Case finishes work in Palm Springs on Friday, January 2, and starts work in Santa Maria the following Monday, so it looks to be a busy Christmas Season for us...

Friday, November 28, 2008

California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, CA

Friday, after a day of Thanksgiving feasting with family, the kids are ready for an outing to the California State Railroad Museum in downtown Sacramento.

Nephew so wants to play with the toy trains! They move, which is better than can be said for the big ones standing around the museum. Those are only good for climbing on.
After a lot of running around and looking at stuff, it was time for a break.
I love this picture!
Interest in exhibits wanes, but play never ceases: Are you ready for some football?!!!
Maybe a future quarterback!
Look what I caught!
Maybe a future train engineer!
Niece tries out my funky reading glasses, the better to inspect the Golden Spike. This is a copy of the one used on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory to connect the Central Pacific Railroad and Union Pacific Railroad, creating the first transcontinental railway.

Turns out, the jeweler who made the original also fabricated this one. His descendants held it in secret until 2005, when they sold it to the railroad museum. Interestingly, the "original" spike used in the ceremony is engraved with "May 8", planned date of the ceremony. Due to delay, the ceremony occurred on May 10, and the jeweler engraved the correct date on this copy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Sunnier Day on Kauai

Despite the forecasts, our second day on Kauai dawned sunny and rain-free.We thought you'd like some photos of our surroundings.
Case says we got a pretty good deal on the hotel, because of the economy. (I think that translates into "Don't plan on being able to come back here frequently.") While we don't have the place to ourselves, there aren't nearly as many guests around as on our last visit.
Breakfast is our favorite meal, partly for the view from the breakfast patio...
... and partly for the food.
Red ginger flowers brighten up many of the walkways, reminding us of cheerful family members (Hello, Ginger!").
We left the hotel this evening for a brief exploration of Poipu. Case is smiling because we stumbled across the local gelato shop!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Poipu, Kauai ,Hawaii

Just at this moment, Case is still doing temp work, and the hospital he's working at feels like it is a little expensive to keep him full time, since they have a half-time doctor already. To Case, anything sounds like a good excuse for a vacation, and this was no exception! We would "sacrifice" to save the hospital some money by giving up some of the work days they were contractually obligated to provide -- and, of course, we weren't just going to spend those days at home. Nope! We were going to Hawaii! (As a further excuse, he says it's our "last blast" before we settle down for good.)

In deference to my desire to stick to the familiar, we have returned to my favorite hotel on Kauai, where we spent a few days of our honeymoon two-and-a-half years ago.
We arrived to wind and rain... But it's Hawaii, so who cares??? We used the rain as an excuse to relax and unwind in our room. A few of the local surfer-dudes prefered to skim-board on the "river" it created on the hotel grounds.
Apparently, when you're a Ketting, every vacation requires a good book to be complete.The storm carried on into the dusk, reminding us of a rainstorms experienced on our honeymoon in Bali. Unfortunately, this hotel doesn't have a tin room, so we missed the full effect.
Notice anything odd about this photo?
The guitar is "backwards". Even the strings were reversed, with the higher pitches at the top of the downstroke. Maybe this is a Hawaiian technique -- there seem to be as many ways to play guitar as there are genres of music.
No guitarist (or anything else) keeps Jolene awake when the clock strikes 9!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fire in Orange and Riverside Counties

We first noticed a fire just after noon,
as the sky changed from the usual Southern California blue to a yellow orange haze.
Looking down our street, there appeared to be two fires. The news at the moment was only up to date on one.
Santa Ana winds are blowing but, our home seems very safe as we are right in town. The threatened homes lie on the edges of Brea and Yorba Linda, backing on open hills and canyons.
To get a better assessment, we drove to a hilltop park overlooking the fires just a few miles away. The Brea/Carbon Canyon fire is the newest one, centered approximately 6 miles NE of our house.
The "older" Corona/Yorba Linda fire (#3 after Montecito on Thursday and Sylmar yesterday) was only visible as a thick, billowing column of smoke about 15 miles straight east. Until the wind shifted slightly, we got to breath its fumes. Reportedly, it was blowing embers from this fire that started the Brea one.
I watched the fire for a number of hours as it crested the hilltops, stopped, and then advanced again as the winds shifted.
Pretty soon, a fire copter started shuttling water from a Brea park "lake" to the worst hot spots, making drop after drop where flames threatened homes on the edge of Brea. (Case was getting a little bored with fire-watching, until the aircraft showed up. Later, two big fire bombers made some runs, too, but we couldn't get good photos of those.)
Here the flames dance directly above El Torito, with Brea Macy's just in the foreground.