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...