Friday, August 31, 2012

Lana’s Gear

I’m a little late to the gear party, but I’m finally buckling down and putting together a post of what I’m taking with me.  Brace yourself, this one is going to be a little lengthy. As David said in his post, when we were daydreaming about this trip for months, we read a lot of blogs that had posts about what people took:  their bags, their clothes, their electronics, etc. For some reason those posts are very popular. But they got me through the planning phase, and I took a lot of tips from various bloggers, so I thought I’d throw in my own two cents. We will probably make some changes down the road (this road trip portion of the journey is a perfect time to do that). I’ve already discovered one of my shirts is totally see-through, which prompted a quick trip to Target this morning. When you only have six shirts, and one is essentially sheer, you’ve got to do something about it, and quick.
So here we go. In looking at this picture I’m realizing I have a lot of black items with me, which is good because it goes with everything and generally hides dirt, but bad because we’re traveling through a perpetual summer as we drift from the southern to northern hemisphere. Imma gonna cook. So that, coupled with the see-through shirt, may have this looking a bit different by the time we take off for Ecuador in October, but here’s what I’ve got right now.
  310HS_IMG_0273
Starting from top left and going clockwise, spiraling to the center of the photo:
I’ve got a couple of packing cubes from Eagle Creek; the smallest one is filled with knickers (6 pairs);
The largest one is filled with my running kit: 2 pairs running shorts, 1 short sleeve shirt, 1 tank top, 2 running bras, 3 pairs of socks, headphones, RoadID, sunglasses, and running hat, GPS watch (unpictures because I forgot it at home) and charger;
Bottoms in 3 lengths:  1 pair shorts, 1 pair capris, 1 pair long pants that roll up;
A little black dress, a black skirt that can be longer (below knee) or shorter (above knee) if you roll the waistband over, and even a short swim cover-up that ties around your neck. It’s from Patagonia.
A little black cardigan.
Travel towel in pouch.
Cotton hoodie.
3 bras (one black, one white, one nude)
The medium packing cube on the left is filled with shirts (4 short sleeve and 2 now 3 tank tops—that purple striped one is the one you can see straight through. Fun for the whole family!). I have found the Gap Body line of shirts to be easy to wash and quick to dry, and I’ve got a couple of other Old Navy shirts that have a little stretch. Cotton shirts don’t dry as well and they don’t re-shape as well as some with a little lycra
Two long and narrow packing cubes, the one on the left including swimsuits (2), pareo, large brimmed hat (I love the Wallaroo ones made in Boulder), and the one on the right including cold/wet weather gear, including a North Face rain jacket, Lululemon leggings, a pair of lightweight gloves, and a long sleeved hooded running tech tee from REI, good for running in cold weather, or as an additional layer
And in the center, a pair of capri sweats from C9 Target and a racerback Nike tanktop to use as pajama/cover-up when tramping to and from the bathroom in campgrounds and hostels where we have to share a shower. See regular sleepwear below
Cheap Kenneth Cole Reaction sunglasses (unpictured)
Next, the shoes. Starting from the top left and going clockwise:
310HS_IMG_0265
Running shoes: for our road trip portion, I just bought my regular running shoes (Mizuno Wave Inspire 8), but I’ve got a pair of Salomon trail running shoes that I’ll be taking on the around the world portion.
Toms (love my Toms—they’re so comfy. I’m using my current gray pair on the road trip, but I’m saving a red pair for the RTW leg.)
Keens for hiking, water shoes, etc.
Pair of cheap highly squishable black flats
Flip-flops for showers, hostels, and beaches
I realize this is 2-3 more pairs of shoes than most people take, and I may get rid of the black flats, but they pack so flat it doesn’t make much difference to throw them in.
Next up, toiletries, again clockwise:
310HS_IMG_0268
Babyliss travel blowdryer. In my normal travels, I often don’t bring a blowdryer because most hotels have them. This one is teeny tiny but it works really well.  And I defy you to find a campground with a blow dryer.
Tom’s toothpaste (using up the big tube)
Folding toothbrush
Brush (this one is huge, but I haven’t found a good small brush)
Suave dry shampoo
Bumble & bumble shampoo and conditioner
Face wipes
Makeup—tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, lipgloss, lip balm
Sunscreens—50 spf, 100 spf, 30 spf for my face
antiobiotic cream, razors, deodorant and soap
Bumble & bumble thickening spray, gel, comb
Two large hair clips, hairbands and bobby pins (in the small tin)
Clippers, tweezers, nail file
Unpictured:  separate kit of medications (benadryl, sudafed, immodium, petpo, maloxx, bandaids), aloe vera gel, bug wipes, sunscreen wipes (we’re big on sunscreen in the Bump household).
All of this fits in my Jansport toiletry kit, which I absolutely love and have had since about 2005. I weep for the day it fails, but for now I always use it when I travel. I’ve tried other similar toiletry kits, but none come close. I can hang it anywhere, there is a separate zipper pocket, a middle mesh pocked and a small top pocket that holds the hook and is great for small things that always fall to the bottom, like hair ties and your toothbrush.
Simple sleep kit:
310HS_IMG_0269
Coolmax sleep sheet that zips together with David’s made by his seamstress genius of a mother (thanks Jean!)
Pillowcase made from the same material. The pillow will stay behind on the RTW portion, but we’ll stuff the pillowcase with clothes to use as a pillowcase if necessary.
Tank and boxers
And finally (and again clockwise), my gear. Although some of this stuff is really David’s gear, but I’ll be carrying it in my backpack per his backup strategy post. Have you read that one yet? And you’re still awake? I kid, but I’m grateful he thinks about this stuff so I don’t have to.
G12_IMG_1624
Secondary backup hard drive and SATA-USB adapter,
Outlet expander with 2 USB ports and 3 plugs
Network cable
Micro USB charger
Camera battery charger
Retractable auxiliary input cable
Lenovo laptop and power supply
Canon 310HS camera
Crappy LG cellphone
Samsung portable media player
Bubi bottle (see David’s post for what it looks like squished down and rolled up)
Headphones
Travel journal and pen
Petzl headlamp
Micro USB charger (yes, another one—one in each bag. Almost everything charges on micro.)
Kindle fire for games, books, magazines, internet backup, etc.
Our bags:
David’s already linked to these in his post, but we each have an eBags weekender bag (mine is the blue one you can see the top of below), which has lots of handles, backpack straps and a shoulder strap to boot. We’ve traveled with them a couple of times and they easily fit in the overhead space on flights. We also each have an Osprey Quasar backpack(the green one at the edge of the shot), which is sturdy but has lots of pockets and a chest and waist strap. I like the cinches on each side which cinch the sides down nicely. I currently have a lot of stuff in my eBag, and my backpack is actually kind of empty, aside from the laptop and my camera. I also picked up an inexpensive canvas/cotton messenger bag style purse at Target, which packs down to nothing but is a lot less conspicuous in cities rather than traipsing around with a backpack. It slings across my waist or can be cinched up under my arm like a regular purse, and it’s got good pockets for stashing various items.
310HS_IMG_0259_crop
And that’s it. It’s a lot of stuff, and it’s very heavy, so it’ll be interesting to see what we jettison by the time we leave for Ecuador in October. Right now since we’ve got lots of cargo space, it’s easy to just throw a couple of extra things in. But that’ll change.  I know we’ll let stuff go as we travel. So far the only thing I’ve added is a black tank top to camouflage the see-through one.  I know how disappointed you all are.
So I’m curious. You’ve seen and heard what we’re bringing—are we crazy? Is there anything we forgot that we should bring? Or what would you say to donate to the nearest Goodwill and godspeed?  Let us know!

Today's moment of wonder

Comes from the Honks dollar store in Twin Falls, ID. Have a happy holiday weekend and stay cool, everyone!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Rest of David’s Gear

LuggageWhile planning what to take on our trip, I read a lot of gear posts from other travelers.  Some photographer-specific articles gloss over the soft-goods like clothes, but given the volume and weight of the photo gear they describe, I wonder if they’re taking anything but the clothes on their back and possibly a change of underwear that doubles as padding around a particularly expensive lens.  Lana and I settled on six changes of clothes to give us some flexibility on where laundry day falls, depending on either timing or facilities (mostly a good location or weather for drying, as we can hand wash nearly anywhere).  I picked clothes that were quick-drying and light weight/small volume foremost, but also durable, since I’d like them to last a year if possible, and buying 36” inseam pants is tricky in some parts of the world.

I already listed my photo/electronics gear previously, which is all stored in my black Osprey Quasar 30L backpack; all of the gear below fits in my carry-on, a red eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender.

 

From middle left, clockwise:

  • 2 pair pants (navy and tan)Gear
  • 2 pair shorts (tan—one not pictured, being worn) with custom hidden pockets sewn in by my very generous mother with some assistance by me, on the easier, hand-sewn portions
  • 1 pair light running shorts (navy)
  • 6 pair ExOfficio briefs
  • 6 pair socks
  • 6 shirts; 4 short sleeve and 2 long.  All synthetic blends (one being worn)
  • 2 tech t-shirts for running or for layering (grey & white, on top of shirts above)
  • 1 sleep sack, made by my mother out of CoolMax; it zips to Lana’s to form a double when needed/possible
  • 1 pillow case, ditto.  Not pictured; for the road trip, it is also filled with a down pillow
  • 1 pair boxers on top of the sleep sack
  • 1 mostly crushable, and very breathable sun hat (Henshel Breezer)
  • 1 light-weight zippered cardigan fleece (black, below hat)
  • 1 pair swim trunks (blue, on fleece)
  • 1 rash guard for sun protection while snorkeling, or layering (grey, on top of trunks)
  • 1 pair light-weight tights for cold weather (black, in same stack above)
  • 1 microfiber towel (top right)
  • 1 rain jacket (grey, in stuff sack)
  • Travel first-aid kit
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel Braun electric razor (2 AA, so no bulky recharger to pack)
  • Bubi flexible silicone water bottle (blue, with silver carabineer)
  • Toiletries in quart zipper bag (folding toothbrush, deodorant, soap, shampoo, short comb, chapstick, acid-reducer pills and anti-histamines)
  • Toothpaste (using up the > 3 oz. tube on the road trip)
  • Travel clothes line (braided elastic)
  • Ecco Trail IV low leather and Gore Tex breathable/waterproof shoes
  • Nike trail shoes, the bulkiest concession I’ve made; I am replacing my daily 8 mile ride with a 3-4 mile run with Lana each morning
  • Bill-capped running hat
  • Flip-flops (public showers)
  • Tom’s Cordones, for a flat-packing, lighter/cooler shoe option

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Road Trip: Day One

We got a late start this morning, but we’ve made it all the way to Vernal, Utah!  It was good to finally just be on the road, rather than talking, or planning, or thinking about it.  That’s our campsite at the DinoKOA in Vernal, and the others are some shots from our day of driving. There was a lot of stopping for road construction, and since we took Hwy 14 up and through Steamboat Springs, a lot of being stuck behind campers or semi-trucks.  But all that aside, it was a very good day and we saw a new corner of Colorado that we hadn’t ever explored before.

G12_IMG_1630Vernal Utah!
G12_IMG_1633G12_IMG_1634

Friday, August 24, 2012

What to take with you when you travel around the world

David's done a couple of posts already about the gear he's taking, and I'll do one too once I'm reunited with all my trip stuff, which is currently scattered across Northern Colorado. I kid. It's just in Loveland at my mother-in-law's, and in Eaton at my parents' house, but I currently have no idea where most of it is.

But in the meantime, I thought I'd give you (and myself) some advice on what to take with you that doesn't go in a bag.
  • Take kindness. It's easy to think that everyone is out to get your money or rip you off. People are the same everywhere. Everyone wants to be valued. Everyone wants to be acknowledged. Everyone wants to be treated fairly.
  • Bring a smile. It'll get you further than almost anything.
  • Take a sense of wonder. It's easy to get into the "Oh, another temple/waterfall/lemur<--not likely! But there is no sense in seeing the world if you're going to dismiss it as "Been there. Done that."
  • Take gratitude for the experience. You are so very lucky to have this opportunity. Be thankful for it.
  • Take an open mind and open heart. You never know what's around the corner. Some of the best experiences come from the unexpected. Be ready for anything. Expect it. Embrace it.
  • Bring along everyone you know. (That's what the blog is for!) Your family, your friends, your co-workers and neighbors and the people you ride the bus with every morning. You're going to need them when the going gets rough and the world seems lonely.
  • Take some honesty. Things will be hard, you will fight with your traveling companion, there will be times when all you want to do is curl up read a book. Own it, embrace it, do it.
  • Take your time. You have a whole year. Don't rush. Wander.
  • Bring your silly. Thoughtfulness has a place on this trip, but seriousness doesn't.
  • Take your courage. Be brave. Be brave. Be brave.
And finally, some things you should leave behind.
  • Leave your assumptions about cultures and people behind.
  • Leave your comfort zone. Eat something crazy. Do something you might not like. Even if you don't, I promise it'll make a good story.
  • Leave your grouch, your grumble, your inner curmudgeon. It will follow you, it will find you, but just remember to stop and eat something. Because generally it's blood sugar related (this one is definitely for me to remember).
  • Leave your expectations you carry from the last time you stepped out your door. This is not like that one time. You don't want it to be.
  • Leave your fear behind. I'm not talking about strutting down dark alleys. But as I said above (and it bears repeating): be brave.
  • Leave your mascara. Chances are good you'll sweat it off or cry it off anyway. For that matter all of your armor, in whatever way you put it up.
  • Leave some breadcrumbs. You'll be back eventually. Take care that you have some place to land on the other side of your year.
I love The Holstee Manifesto below. It's advice we can all take. It got me through many moments of uncertainty in the last few months.
 
The Holstee Manifesto
Today is my last day at work, and my eyes are brimming.  The leaving is finally happening. I thought it would never come and now it's here. But the going is coming (yes, I know that makes no sense) and I'm ready to be on my way.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Backing up your photos while traveling

Photo backup strategy, for the geeks (Updated, post-trip):

There are variations of the saying, "If a file doesn't exist in at least two places, it doesn't really exist," but the idea is common.  I'll be trying to make sure my pictures really exist, using an updated version of the backup strategy I have used on previous trips.

The three threats to my data that I need to protect against are: mistakes, hardware failure, and theft/loss.  The last two are really just a combination of care and luck.  Mistakes are the most likely, and the trickiest to protect against.
 

Delete this at night, on the computer
My first defense against mistakes is a simple practice: never, ever delete an image from the camera itself.  I will wait until it's backed up, and I can review it on a larger display to be really sure I don't want it.  It may not actually be out of focus like it appeared to be on the camera; it may be soft, but your only usable shot of the scene.  Or I may simply have meant to delete the picture of my shoes, and instead deleted the one of Jackie Onassis, Bigfoot and the Lochness monster posed together.  Deleting on the camera will go badly--it's just a question of when.  I make sure I have enough memory card space that I never need to, and then I'm also not wasting daylight hours looking at the back of my camera when other neat stuff is visible.




Shoot RAW
My second defense against mistakes is shooting in RAW (not the primary reason, but it's a great perk!).  There are no issues with preserving a pristine original, to avoid generation edit artifacts from re compressing in JPEG; and I don't end up cropping my original, and then having that crop propagated to all of my backups, and no original full-size image left.  Non-destructive editing in RAW eliminates a whole class of mistakes that are really easy to make.
After those two, I'm relying on redundancy--keep it in multiple locations, and don't propagate deletes with backups.

Since I'm shooting in RAW, cloud backup isn't feasible--I'll be producing too much data for the kind of bandwidth that will be available.  Based on the number of pictures I have taken on previous trips, I'm expecting to shoot roughly 750GB in the next year (update: we ended up with 528GB, in 34,000 pictures).  Assuming a generous 256Kbps upload, I'd need to be online 20 hours a day to back up that quantity.  Instead, I'll be using a series of 2.5"  drives, which are very light and portable, and in smaller capacities, reasonably cheap.



Drives X, W and S
To simplify the description, my destinations:
F1 - F4 are my four flash memory cards
C: is my internal drive, a 500GB drive, which is the largest 9mm 2.5" drive currently available (the Lenovo x220 is slim, and will not accept the more common 11mm drive).
S: is my primary storage, a 1TB USB 3.0 drive (silicon Power A80)
W: is my primary backup, a 1TB USB 2.0 drive (Western Digital Elements SE)
X: is one of several small capacity (cheap) secondary backup drives, which are just bare 2.5" SATA drives in (cheap) plastic shock/water resistant sleeves

Importing
The routine:
When possible, each night I will remove the F1 card from my camera, and insert the F2 card into the camera, and immediately* format F2.  I'll import F1 into Lightroom on the laptop, and the import process will copy the images to S: and also to a temporary backup location on C: at the same time.  Then I will place the F1 card back in the card wallet, still with all of the images on it.  At this point the images are in three locations, but two of them (C: and F1) are temporary.
Once the import is done, I will connect the W: drive, and run the robocopy script to backup S: to W:  It's important to note that the backup only copies new or changed content from S: to W:, it does not mirror deletions.  If I delete an image on S:, by mistake or not, that image will still exist on W: and X:.  This is an important safeguard against mistakes.  If I used the MIRROR option in robocopy (or similar parameter in any other command), I would be replicating my mistakes to my backups, in exchange for saving a tiny amount of space.  That is not a good trade.
At this point, the images exist in four locations, and it is now safe to format F1 in the normal rotation of the four flash cards, though this probably won't happen until four days from now.
Weekly, I will connect the current X: drive, and run a different, incremental script to backup S: to X:.  I will also clear out the temporary backup location on C:, since that will eventually run out of space otherwise, and the images are already in three permanent locations (S, W & X).
When the X: drive is nearly full, or when it's convenient, I will ship it home, so I will have a copy of most of our images even if we lose all our bags.  Before starting to use the next X: drive, I will use Lightroom to move all of the images from S:\Pictures\YYYY\ to S:\Archived\YYYY.  The full backup to W: copies from both of those folders (merging them to a single location on W:), but the incremental only copies from the S:\Pictures\ folder, so the next X: drive will not have any overlap with the previous one (conserving space on these small drives).  At the same time, in Lightroom, I will also permanently delete all images marked as rejects (waiting until now insures they are backed up on W and the prior X: drive, in case I later discover I rejected the wrong photo/s).

(*An updated note on formatting a rotation of cards: when you're shooting a lot (like 30K images), it's important to remember to format the card as soon as you rotate it into the camera.  If you just rolled over 9999 images on your F1 card, and your most recent shot is named IMG_0257, but you're inserting F2 which has a most recent shot of IMG_9412, your camera will try to be smart, and it will name your next shot IMG_9413.  If you don't care about such things, you probably stopped reading after the first paragraph; for the rest of you, fixing this is not how you want to spend an evening in some exotic location where you could be seeing/eating/experiencing something really neat.  Instead, make it a habit to insert a card, display the first image on the card, in-camera, double check that you do already have that image in Lightroom/whatever you import to, and then format that card, right then.  Pain averted.)

Do I fit in?


Speaking of bags, the C, S, W and X drives will each be kept in separate bags (we each have a backpack and a carry-on bag), so we won't lose pictures if we lose a bag.

The backup scripts I'm using are very simple.  The most complicated part is generating a date-time stamped log file for each backup, which is almost certainly overkill, but it's fun to keep my scripting skills in use, and it does provide a very detailed (but tiny, in terms of disk space) record of your backups, in case you need it in the future.








Full Backup batch file:
REM Modified log datestamp from http://stackoverflow.com/questions/5329414/generating-managable-log-files-on-a-batch-file-job
REM Truncates localdatetime to 14 characters (year through seconds)
for /f "skip=1" %%d in ('wmic os get localdatetime') do if not defined MyDate set MyDate=%%d
set Filename=W:\Logs\BackupLog_%MyDate:~0,14%.txt
REM Copy, recursing folders, no retry, no wait, logging with datestamp
robocopy S:\Pictures W:\Pictures /S /R:0 /W:0 /LOG:%Filename%
REM Copy any archived pictures to single location on W:
robocopy S:\Archived W:\Pictures /S /R:0 /W:0 /LOG+:%Filename%

The incremental Backup script is identical, other than destination drive, and omitting the last two lines to copy S:\Archived\.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

David's Gear

Aside from clothes and medication, this is the gear I'm planning to take on our travels.  While it looks large when spread out, it all fits in my backpack (the toiletries, journals, Kindle, and backup drives will be in my carry-on sized bag, along with clothes).

Starting in the center, and roughly spiraling out:
Canon 7D
EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM
EF 70-200 f/4 L IS USM
67mm hoya multicoated filter on 70-200 for weather resistance
EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
EF 1.4x II Extender
Body/lens cap pair
Four 16GB CF cards
Ultra-light gloves
77mm circular polarizer
Two spare batteries
Battery charger
Rocket blower bulb for dust mitigation
Disposable rain sleeve for 7D & lens
Neoprene sleeves for lenses
Crumpler Haven (nearly all of the above fits in that, which in turn rests in the bottom of my backpack)
Zip-ties and gaffer's tape--my equivalent of bailing wire and duct tape

Above the 7D:
Canon G12
3 16GB SD cards
1 spare battery
Waterproof housing (for some portions of the trip only)
Mini tripod
Lightweight monopod

Photo processing and backup:
Lenovo x220 laptop (secondary photo backups)
Silicon Power A80 1TB USB 3.0 drive (primary photo storage)
Western Digital 1TB USB 2.0 drive (primary photo backups)
Multiple 2.5" SATA drives (incremental tertiary photo backups, to be shipped home)
Mukii ZIO impact/water resistant cases for 2.5" drives
Mukii ZIO SATA to USB 3.0 cable for SATA drive backups
Mukii ZIO SATA to USB 2.0 cable (spare/redundant)
Kingston USB card reader for photo import
Spare/redundant USB card reader (not pictured)
USB mini cable for direct camera photo import (in case both card readers are lost/broken)
16GB USB flash drive for generic storage (not pictured)
USB flash drive configured with bootable UBCD recovery tools (not pictured)
SD card that doubles as a USB flash drive, configured as bootable Ubuntu 12 in case of drive failure or paranoia attack
2.5" 9mm SATA drive (clone of boot drive in Lenovo, in case of drive failure)

Reading, writing, and other:
Journals
Kindle keyboard
Samsung Galaxy Player 4.0 (not pictured)
Multiple USB Micro chargers
Steripen (USB-rechargable UV water sterilization)
Black Diamond Spot headlamp
Headphones, stereo splitter and extension cables
Passport, immunization records, and decoy wallet (small bills, expired credit cards)
Toiletries:
Folding toothbrush
Small comb
Portable electric razor
Toothpaste
Tissue
Toilet paper (sans cardboard tube)
Soap and shampoo
Cotton swabs
Ear plugs

The clothing list will be determined by some trial and error on our road trip.

The backups and redundancies are probably overkill, but I'm professionally responsible (for one more day) for backups, and I know how terrible it is to have a backup failure, and also how to reduce the chances of having one, so I'm going with the overkill option, rather than underkill.

We've been living by lists for the last two weeks as we've been moving out and preparing our house for a renter, as well as planning the trip, and this list was easy--just copied from one of our existing lists.  I'm looking forward to some listless weeks ahead.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Losing it

I think we can all agree that I've handled the stress of the last few months rather well, for me. Sure, I'm up a few pounds from some feeling-eating, but generally I've been upbeat, focused, and generally gung ho.  To some extent I realized early on that if I fully acknowledged my anxieties, they would mushroom all over me, so I've just put my head down and crossed things off lists, did things that needed to be done, and pushed that part of me that is freaking out, worrying, fretting, doomsdaying and naysaying into a deep mental corner (let's call her Lois, shall we?), and sat on her.  It was all going so well. *Foreshadowing!*

On Saturday David and I had a heart to heart about hiring movers, and he sanely insisted that he'd like to enjoy the first few months of our trip, rather than being crippled by back pain for them.  It all made sense, and after some hemming and hawing I booked movers through E-move.com. Not the cheapest, not the most expensive, with more reviews and favorable ones. 

And then I went out to the garage to get some bubble wrap and starting sobbing.  I can't exactly explain it, because it all made sense, and it isn't that much money, but Lois had apparently had enough. She'd been sat on for far too long, and she wasn't going to take it anymore.  I pulled myself together, blamed my red face on the hot garage, and proceeded to bubble wrap some fragile stuff and sniffle a lot.  I don't blame David for not noticing, or saying anything if he did notice. His education has been extensive.  I just wanted to work on punching Lois into submission, and wrap some teapots at the same time.  Eventually I regained my equilibrium, and we met friends for a birthday dinner out, and maybe a glass or two of wine finally was what settled Lois down to a grumble.

Part of the reason I didn't pour my anxiety out to David is that I know the peace we're existing in right now (what little there is) is somewhat fragile.  And there is always this fear that whatever issue awakens Lois will startle his own gremlin of self-doubt, and a domino effect will happen.  I will admit, however, that David has had far fewer expressions of uncertainty.  But then again, I think he's just that much better and stifling his own version of Lois (Louie?).

So getting back to this weekend, we were both doing ok. We delivered a load of stuff to my parents' basement, had a family lunch, ran some errands on the way home, and then got back to trucking along with packing things when we got back home.  We left our miniature poodle Ruby with my parents (where she'll stay when we're gone) so that she could avoid the stress of the next week before the moving truck comes. And then as we were packing things we realized that she probably wouldn't come back to the house to stay until we return from our trip. The next three weeks are crazy stressful, one week with moving chaos, one week with paint, cleaning, and no furniture chaos, and one week where we're homeless by Monday. While we'll see her in the next three weeks, she effectively had already moved out. So I packed up all her her toys, brushes, special shampoo, and her treats. I looked at David, and he looked at me, and we both felt blindsided. It felt a little like she'd died, which was crazy, because we'd left her bouncing off the walls at my parents' house a few hours earlier.  David was hugging me, and I was crying, but somehow laughing at myself at the same time.

It was just all too much, I guess. 

When I had some time to reflect about it, I realized what my problem with hiring movers was. It wasn't that I freaked out about moving, or had any doubts about the trip. It was that I know every dollar I spend on moving expenses is a dollar I don't spend in Bali, or Argentina, or Cairo. And while I know that spending money on movers rather than on physical therapy for David's back is a sound decision, tell that to Lois.

The Ruby thing is pure projection. It's all happening so fast, but this one snuck up on us. I realized that the last walk we took on Saturday night was her last walk in the neighborhood (for a year! Not dead yet!).  Packing up her leash, food and water dishes, and her soccer balls was this small (much, much easier) version of what we're doing with everything. And while I'm excited for the future, there is much that is bittersweet about the moving process.  You can't look forward all the time. You just can't.  And Lois, she's there in my peripheral vision, every time I turn my head.

Last night I did what I always do to calm myself down. I baked. I made granola and two types of cookies and used up ingredients and basically said goodbye to that part of my life for the next while. I got flour on my Kitchenaid mixer and in my hair. David licked the last of the batter off the spatula, and I kissed my baking career on both cheeks. It felt good to get to do it one last time, knowing it was the last time. It was so much better that way--not a Lois in sight.

And as much as I'd like to stash Lois at my parents' house along with all of our other things, she's probably along for the ride this next year (so! much! to worry! about!).  So I have two choices: I can either make my peace with her and try and hug it out, or I can keep pushing her into the corner and turning my back on her.  I haven't chosen a strategy yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fortune smiles


While I don't necessarily believe I have great luck, when it comes to travel, I have great fortune. I got this last Wednesday night, and since our tickets have been purchased, it sure seems like it just might come true. 

Before our trip to Africa a few years ago, I got this one:


And holy heck did that end up being true.  Of course, I'm sure approximately 1/4 of the available fortunes in cookies have something to do with travel. But I'm willing to think it's a message from the universe to me.  Maybe I need to buy a lottery ticket too.