We have tickets – kind of

When I started this post it was titled “Holy cats, we have plane tickets!”.  But it was silly of me to think things could be so simple!

We’re faced with two issues regarding our travel home.  First, JR is currently planning to attend a  one-week training in DC, so we were all flying together to DC, and then just Abby and I would continue on to Ohio.   But now there’s a strong chance that this training will be canceled, so we would need to change his ticket.  And it was only because of this particular training that we all wanted to fly through DC, so if the training is off the table, we can take a different route home.

The different route is important because it feeds into problem #2.  The cat.  Right now we’re supposed to fly on Austrian Airlines to Vienna and then DC, and then a United flight to Columbus.  Austrian had no trouble making arrangements for Annabelle to fly as checked baggage on both flights and the cost is $200.  Okay, great.  But, they noted that I needed to call United directly to book Annabelle on the DC to Columbus leg.  I called and that’s where things went downhill.  United informed me that Annabelle would have to be flown as cargo.  In order to do that, we have to take her to their cargo center at Dulles (located at the airport, but not within the terminal) and check her in 2 hours prior to our flight.  We’re scheduled to land in DC at 2:05, and our flight to Columbus leaves at 5:20.

Hmm.

I’m quite concerned that we will not have time to retrieve Annabelle and our other bags, clear customs, deliver her to the cargo office in time, and check our bags all over again for the final flight.   Oh and United is charging $300 for the cat for this short flight! NOTE: It costs more to ship our cat on one domestic flight with United than it does for a transatlantic flight with Austrian.  Urgh.

We’ve thrown out some different options – such as renting a u-haul minivan and driving ourselves home from DC.  This would actually get us home faster, and would probably cost about the same.  The problem is that JR has never recovered from driving Annabelle from Columbus to DC in 2012.  He loves her but swears he will not drive in the car with her again.  Apparently she yowled like she was being tortured the entire time and it was miserable, so when I suggested this option, he responded with:

 

hard pass

Regardless, we aren’t making any changes until we know what’s happening with JR’s training, so it’s wait and see at this point.  But we still have dates and we’re down to about 6 weeks, which is crazy.  On Friday, the movers came to do a pre-packout survey.  Basically they go room to room and we talk about which items are going to storage, which items are going to Tbilisi, our UAB (air shipment), and all sorts of other details.   They looked a little concerned when they saw the size of our couch.   Our pack out date is just a few weeks away now and full-blown panic is starting to set in – we have so much left to do!

Cat Sitting 101

One of the hardest things about leaving Pristina for 3 months was leaving our cat, Annabelle.  It’s a really long time to be away.  We considered multiple options but knowing our cat’s aversion to travel and conversations we had with our last vet, we decided to have someone look after her here in our home.  Annabelle is not a high maintenance cat, and we’ve been able to leave her alone for a few days at a time without any trouble.  Any longer and we usually have a friend stop in to refresh her food and water and check on her.   3 months felt like way too long to ask a friend to commit to, and I also wanted someone coming at least every other day so she wouldn’t get too lonely or feel abandoned.

Finding the right cat sitter proved to be a very difficult task.   Our housekeeper, Yllka, has checked on our cat previously.  She is perfectly capable of filling her food and getting her fresh water, but she is not really a pet person so she doesn’t interact with her.  By that I mean, she tries to to stay as far away from her as possible.   There is a young girl at post (we’ll call her E), I thought she was maybe 11, and I thought she seemed up for the job. I mean, I was babysitting kids at her age so surely she could handle a cat!  To make JR more comfortable I told a wee white lie and said she was 12.   That didn’t turn out so well for me when a few weeks later – after I hired her, of course – our young cat sitter revealed that she was 9.  NINE!

clueless gif

Feeling nervous about this lapse in judgment, I asked Yllka if she would also check on kitty when she came by to clean each week.    For my own comfort, I made Yllka and E (our not even a pre-teen cat sitter) each a calendar with clear instructions of which day each person should come to the apartment and spend time with the cat.

Even with that plan in place, I was sick with worry about leaving kitty for so long.  So we gave another set of keys to our friend Keri, who is totally dependable and great with cats.  She offered to come by occasionally for us and make sure Annabelle was doing okay.  She also agreed to be our “in case of emergency” contact and serve as a go-between if Yllka or E had questions.   So basically we had 3 different cat sitters.   Not exactly efficient.

I’m confident that Yllka and E both gave it their all, but there were a few minor issues.

One day, I e-mailed Yllka to see how things were going (shocker, the 9 year old does not have an email account).   It can be difficult to communicate with Yllka via text or e-mail.   She speaks English well, but relies on the help of translating programs on the internet when she needs to write to us.  Here was her reply:

“I hope you are well. Today was the place purified and pour fawn cat food and water every thing is okay., I would like you to go on 20 June for holiday turkey for 7 days after which you will go back to Kosovo on June 21 but i in time that you have given June 24 is the day you have to work or can I free this day and come to work after the holiday to come.”

It only took me a minute or two to realize she was just letting me know that the cat was doing fine and she would be headed to Turkey for a vacation.  She was also nice enough to attach a few pictures of Annabelle with her reply.

A few weeks later, Keri messaged me on FB to pass along a text she’d received from Yllka.

“Hi Kerri Sorry that I write to you in this time! To Jenni a shingle is finish to buy I can buy you for a cat is to because there is more in the box Thanks Yllka”

Smart lady that she is, Keri figured out that a shingle had something to do with needing more cat litter.  Yllka very generously purchased the litter for us and left us a receipt to reimburse her upon our return.

While the logistics were a bit tricky at times, Annabelle did just fine without us, and so far she hasn’t tried to eat the baby.  Yet.  🙂

 

 

 

A trip to Mega Pet Shop

There is a small pet store down the street from our apartment. I’ve heard mixed reviews about it, but we’re out of cat food and litter (we sent these items in our consumables package but it hasn’t arrived yet) so I needed to go. Many small stores keep their lights out during the day. I’m guessing it’s because it’s hot, and to cut back on electricity costs. Electric outages happen frequently here – luckily all of our housing units have generators.

Anyway, I walked in and it was dark and not exactly super clean, but you know, it’s a pet store. There were two ADORABLE puppies hanging out.

photo 1

photo 2

Now in that second photo, in the back, you can’t tell but there is an opening and the bottom of someone’s legs standing there, facing away. I didn’t realize it until after I took the picture, but that is actually a small room and there were two vets (I pray they were vets?) doing surgery on a dog. Just like, right there for anyone to see. I didn’t want to see more than I already had, so I quickly found my items and waited to pay.

Well, turns out, there is no cashier in that store, only the two vets. Who were in the middle of doggy surgery. When they saw me waiting, one of the vets came out, big smile on his face, and happily added up my purchases and told me the total. As he handed me back my change, I saw I had blood on my thumb and I wondered how I cut myself. Only then did I notice that he was still wearing his SURGICAL GLOVES and they were COVERED IN DOG GOO. And now I had dog blood on my finger. I was – actually, as I type this I still am – completely grossed out. And he just smiled, either totally unaware or unconcerned about the mess and proceeded to put my items in the grocery bag and getting blood on everything. I rushed home to clean up.

Gross. Can you get rabies this way?