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?)