Friday, May 26, 2017

Pillars of the community who turn out to be molesting creeps!

A couple of months ago, I read the sad tale of former teacher Leslie E. Deane, Jr.  Mr. Deane, a 65 year old Virginia resident, was a middle school teacher in Hanover County for 25 years.  He also coached soccer.  Last June, he stopped working for the school system.

For 18 years, Deane's wife, Aura, ran a home based childcare in Chesterfield County that had the capacity to serve up to twelve children between the ages of newborn to 12.  Mr. Deane was initially arrested for molesting a four year child last June.  When news of his arrest got out, more victims came forward accusing Mr. Deane of molesting them, as well.  The abuse went on from 2001 until 2016 and the victims were all between the ages of four and six years old when it occurred.

Eventually, fourteen charges were brought against Leslie E. Deane, Jr.  Prosecutors withdrew eight of the charges in exchange for Deane's agreement to plead guilty to six of them.  Additionally, Aura Deane closed her childcare and mailed in her license.  Mr. Deane was sentenced to about twenty years in prison and will probably not be a free man again.  I'm sure many of his former students and parents of children who were in his wife's care are horrified.

This story is outrageous, but it seems it's not entirely uncommon.  About fifteen years ago, I became aware of a teacher I knew from my days in Gloucester, Virginia.  Olen H. Lewis, Jr. taught history and government at my high school for many years.  He taught my sister and my former best friend.  He also taught at the local community college for about ten years.  I knew him because he was a pillar of our community-- a devout Republican who was friendly with my dad and whose wife used to sing in some of the same groups my dad did.  He had a daughter who managed the local movie theater.

I remember Mr. Lewis in the hallways at my high school.  He was always friendly and nice.  I never would have dreamed that one day, he'd be a registered sex offender.

It seems Mr. Lewis's troubles came to light in November 2001, when, at 64 years old, he was charged with taking indecent liberties with children.  Apparently, the trouble started on November 1st of that year, when Mr. Lewis was caught standing nude in his yard.  Three children were nearby and Lewis was evidently aware of them.  They said he was posing like a weightlifter and calling to them.

Mr. Lewis's punishment started off very light.  He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, be on good behavior, have no contact with minors under age 16 for a year, and complete a sex offender evaluation.  Sounds easy enough, right?  His case was handed to a prosecutor in adjoining Mathews, County because Mr. Lewis was a friend of the Gloucester County prosecutor.

Well... four years later, Mr. Lewis got caught with his pants down again.  That time, he was exposing himself to another girl from Gloucester, although they were in Hampton when the incident occurred.  Mr. Lewis, then 69 years old, had evidently exposed himself to the girl several times during the summer of 2006.  He was in a custodial relationship with her.  I don't know what the ultimate outcome for that case was, except that I see that Mr. Lewis is now a registered sex offender and apparently lives in an apartment in Williamsburg, Virginia.

So far, I've written about two former teachers who turned out to be molesters, but sometimes even social workers end up being perverts.  A few years ago, I blogged about Arthur Bracke, a man who served as the sole social worker in Middlesex County, Virginia, for over twenty years.  In 2008, after having retired from his job, Mr. Bracke committed arson and attempted to kill one of his three adopted sons.  It later came to light that Bracke had molested an eleven year old boy at least six times.

Bracke was eventually sentenced to 39 years in a Virginia prison, but he died in March 2013.  He was 66 years old and it was said that his death was due to "natural causes".

It's really troubling to me that I can now list three cases of men entrusted with the care of children who turned out to be criminals.  I certainly know that not every guy out there is a creep, but these stories do make me kind of glad I don't have to worry about raising a child who could be victimized.  I have written a couple of times in this blog about my own experiences with the neighborhood pervert.

Like the three other men I've written about, this man was a pillar of the community-- well known and well liked by a lot of people.  He had a respected job with the county.  But he used to show me pornography on a regular basis.  Fortunately, he never touched me or exposed himself... He used to say he wouldn't do it because it was against the law.  I was too young and naive to understand that he was abusing me and my parents were too trusting... or maybe they just didn't care.  To this day, whenever I go to a Burger King, I think of this man, who used to call his penis "The Home of the Whopper".  Unbelievable.  He has been dead for a long time now.  I shudder to think of other kids he abused.  I'm pretty certain my neighbor, who was my age and died when she was 39 years old, was another one of his victims.

Spunky redheads! Annie vs. Pretty Woman...

So, yesterday, as I was fretting over the future, I turned on Netflix.  I watched the original Dirty Dancing, since everyone was talking about the allegedly horrible remake on TV.  I felt super old as I was watching, since that film came out when I was a sophomore in high school.  I can't believe thirty years have passed since then.

When Dirty Dancing was over, I noticed that Netflix recommended Pretty Woman next.  Pretty Woman was released in 1990, when I was 18.  I didn't see it for the first time until it had been out for some time.  It's a classic romance comedy starring Julia Roberts and Robert Gere.  Spunky redhead from the wrong side of the tracks wins over gruff, wealthy businessman with a heart of gold, and ends up in the lap of luxury.  Hmmm... where have I heard this story before?

Annie.  I mean the 1982 movie version, which I actually did see in the theater with my older sister.  Granted, I'm sure Annie's story never changes no matter who does it.  Annie is a spunky orphan with red hair who captures the heart of Daddy Warbucks, a short tempered guy who just needs a little more love in his life.  Ultimately, it's basically the same Cinderella story as Pretty Woman is, minus the need for condoms and the risk of STDs.

Pretty Woman is set in Los Angeles, while Annie is set in New York City.  Julia Roberts, as Vivian, is level headed, feisty, and charming.  Aileen Quinn, as Annie, is street smart, cute, and idealistic.  Richard Gere, as Edward the shrewd businessman, has no desire to let another woman in his life.  But Vivian wins him over with her warmth and integrity.  Likewise, little orphan Annie wins over Mr. Warbucks with her winning smile, singing and dancing skills, and scrappy attitude.  Ultimately, both men let the redheads into their hearts and we end up with a happy ending...  In Edward's case, the happy ending might have even entailed more than just a feel good finish to the story.  ;-)

Edward gives Vivian a borrowed necklace to wear for a night at the opera...

Daddy Warbucks also presents Annie with a necklace... a new locket to signify their relationship.  Annie initially rejects the locket because she hopes to find her parents.  Vivian gives back the necklace because it's borrowed.  

If you think about it, even the supporting characters are similar.  In Pretty Woman, there's Kit DeLuca, another scrappy prostitute who represents Vivian's old life.  In Annie, its the other rag tag orphans left at the orphanage.  In Pretty Woman, a kindly hotel manager helps out Vivian when she can't find anyone to sell her an appropriate dress for dinner.  In Annie, Miss Farrell is Annie's fairy godmother.  Both characters enchant almost everyone they meet.

Annie gets into a fight with a bunch of hoodlums.

Maybe if Annie hadn't been rescued by Daddy Warbucks, she might have grown up to be like Vivian. Either way, both women were destined to climb up out of the ghetto and into the good life.  Just like the song, "Fancy".  Fancy isn't as virtuous as Annie is, but like Vivian, she's a whore with a heart of gold who rises up from the ashes of her damned childhood and becomes a high society lady.

And look at this?  It's sung by a redhead!

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I could be thinking of other things besides how Vivian and Annie are alike.  I just thought it was funny how Hollywood, Nashville, and Broadway present us with so many feel good stories about people climbing out of adversity... especially when they're redheads.  It surprises me that I just noticed how much alike these stories are after watching them umpteen times over the years.  I really do need a hobby!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sometimes I have entertaining dreams...

As I was waking up this morning, I had a dream about my former best friend.  It was more like a funny vignette, really.  I dreamt I was working in men's wear store, just like I did over twenty years ago.  She came prancing in and said she needed help finding clothes in a size 2.  I haven't seen her in person in years, but I highly doubt she wears a 2.

Anyway, I was very pleasant and businesslike when I said, "You do realize you're in a men's wear store, right?"

She rolled her eyes and pointed at a couple of ladies' fashions hanging on racks.  There were maybe two outfits and neither would be appropriate on a woman our age, regardless of the woman's figure.  I kind of shrugged and she grabbed this mini jumper looking thing and went into a dressing room.  I think her husband was with her.  I had a good laugh.

Bill and I did some more talking about our possible move to Italy.  This job that he's being offered is an excellent one.  It's a well-connected, high powered position and it would really be great if Bill could do it.  Unfortunately, because we live in Germany, it's likely that Bill would be considered a "local hire".  Local hires are not usually authorized "living quarters allowance" (LQA) because there's a law designed to discourage people from "homesteading" in Europe.  If you get hired in the United States, the government pays to move you and pays for your housing.  If you get hired somewhere else, you may or may not get LQA.  It depends on whether or not it's clear you were planning to move back to the States.  You have to produce a document from your employer specifying that they were planning to repatriate you in the US.  Bill has such a document, but it may not be specific enough to justify getting LQA.

Personally, I think this is a pretty stupid law because a lot of good people get discovered as overseas contractors.  Bill got his offer because he's worked with the people in Italy.  They know him and like him.  If we had been in the States, it's likely that he would not have had that contact.  What's more, if he doesn't take the job, it's likely that someone from the States would... and they would be getting financial help.  So the money would be spent anyway, but on a candidate that wasn't at the top of the list.

If Bill took the job, we'd have to move back to the States within 3 to 5 years.  The same would be true of a person who was hired in the US.  What the law is supposed to do is prevent people from staying in Europe indefinitely and give other people the chance to live abroad.  So what difference does it make where a person was hired?  If they were hired abroad, they'd still have to move back to the States in 3-5 years.

If this job were located in Stuttgart, it would be a lot easier to accept it without a second thought.  We could live on less money every month if we're already established.  But we don't want to pay thousands of dollars to move all our shit to Italy and then take a big pay cut.  There's a lot that goes into moving.  It's not just paying the moving company; it's also having to find a house and paying the start up fees for moving in (three months rent, anyone?).  It's having to pay taxes on the salary, too.  As a contractor, most of Bill's salary is currently tax exempt.  Maybe we could do that if we were younger, but we have to think about what happens when Bill retires.  On the other hand, getting into the GS system is also a good thing for Bill's retirement.  It's pretty hard to get laid off from a GS job.

Supposedly, there are GS jobs opening up locally.  They haven't been advertised yet.  I think if LQA doesn't come through, Bill will probably stay a contractor and then apply for the local GS jobs.  We live in an inexpensive place now and we like our landlords.  A move to Italy means new landlords and loads of money spent.  And even if they did give us LQA, there is always the chance that some asshole down the line will say we shouldn't have gotten LQA and demand all the money back.  Bill just got finished paying off the government for the bonus he got in the 90s when he temporarily left the military.

So... this is a difficult dilemma.  It would be nice if the logjam would break.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ciao Germany?

So... while we were in Italy, I had a very strange feeling that we could end up living there.  It was the same feeling I had three years ago when we visited Germany and I told Bill that I had a feeling he'd get a job there.  In April, when we found out that Bill's company lost its contract, Bill started job hunting.  One of the jobs he applied for is a government service position in Vicenza, Italy.

Bill got an email about three days after he applied, but never heard anything else until yesterday, when he got a tentative job offer.  They didn't even interview him.  Instead, the guy doing the hiring (who knows Bill) called up Bill's military boss and asked for a recommendation.  We now have two days to decide if we want to move to Italy in a couple of months.

It sounds like this would be a no brainer, right?  I mean, it's Italy, for Chrissakes.  But there are a few things we need to consider.  First of all, moving is a huge pain in the ass.  I have done it way too many times over the past ten years and I don't want to do it again.  It means exhausting cleaning, heavy lifting, finding a new place to live and decent landlords, and everything else that comes with moving.  Since Bill would be an overseas hire, it would also mean the government probably wouldn't give him a living quarters allowance, which might make our financial situation leaner than it needs to be.  We could definitely survive on what they'd pay him, but it would be a pretty deep pay cut.

I have seen Vicenza, and while it's by far not the worst place to be, it's a bit frenetic for my tastes.  I would probably learn to love it-- and being an hour away from Venice by train isn't a bad thing.  But I think I prefer Germany's cleanliness and orderliness.  I cringe at the thought of driving and parking in Italy, finding a new dentist, a new vet, and hoping no one breaks into our house.  Apparently, breaking and entering is a problem in the Vicenza area.

On the other hand, it IS a job.  It's also in the government system, which would mean more stability and support.  We would have to move back to the States in five years, but Bill would be building retirement and have actual authority instead of being treated like a temp.  And hopefully, in a few years, we won't have Trump running/ruining things anymore.

Given my 'druthers, I think I'd rather stay in Germany.  But Italy is exciting and beautiful, too, and it's nice to know that Bill is wanted there.  It's crazy that I accurately predicted this job offer, too.  Sometimes my intuition is dead on scary.

Bill still hasn't heard from the new company.  They interviewed Bill last week and will probably offer him a job.  And it will probably be more money.  However, if they don't offer him a job, that will mean moving back to the States... and where, we don't know.  So we have a lot to think about before Friday.

This is just nuts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Back to business...

We're back from Italy and I have written up our trip on my travel blog.  Now I can get back to the business of bitching.  Today, I could be bitching about the latest suicide attack in England.  But I figure everyone's going to be complaining about that today.  So instead, I want to share a link to an essay I read with interest on yesterday, while we were waiting to check out of our apartment.

Writer Ijeoma Oluo titled her essay, "I’m So Tired of Being Told that my Fat Body is Going to Kill Me".  Like so many of us who are fatter than we ought to be, Ms. Oluo has heard many health warnings about her weight from doctors.  The daughter and granddaughter of type 2 diabetics, she has been told since she was a teenager that she would inevitably get diabetes, have to give herself shots, and would probably die young.  She was told this even though her blood sugar usually runs low and she's had to be treated for hypoglycemia more than once.

I have to admit, although no one in my family has diabetes that I know of, Ijeoma Oluo's essay hit home for me.  I haven't gotten too many crappy comments from doctors, mainly because I don't go to doctors unless I am damn sick.  And that hasn't happened in a very long time.  Still, I have read a lot of comments from fat shamers who think they have a crystal ball and can read the future.  Somehow, in our country, a lot of people are under the impression that if you're fat, you're gonna become a diabetic.  And if you're not fat, you're perfectly healthy.  That's not so.

Anyway, I won't rehash Oluo's essay because y'all can read it for yourselves.  Instead, I want to write about the comments I got when I shared it with Facebook friends.  I have one friend, an American citizen originally from Italy and now living in Germany, who loves to take any opportunity to bash Americans.  He also enjoys fat bashing.  He writes that it's the doctor's job to tell his or her patients about the risks of obesity.  And you know what?  I agree.  However, what I relate to is Oluo's comments about how doctors keep insisting that she's going to be diabetic, even though she has no signs or symptoms of diabetes.  She's been repeatedly told that she's going to get sick, even though she's not now.

At one point in her essay, Oluo writes about how she had just given birth and was getting to know her brand new son when she heard a nurse ask about her weight.  The nurse assumed incorrectly that Oluo had suffered gestational diabetes.  Indeed, the medical folks were expected her to be diabetic and asked her to be tested numerous times throughout her pregnancy.  And there she was, gazing at her brand new baby while the doctor and nurse made comments about the miracle that she hadn't had gestational diabetes.  Way to fuck up the mood!

I get that medical people are supposed to be concerned about a person's health.  They are supposed to offer suggestions of ways to be healthier.  However, I think a lot of them have become lazy and think that a person's weight, particularly for females, is the only reason they might be suffering from an ailment.  Rather than looking at a patient objectively and individually, a lot of them simply tell the patient to lose weight.  For some healthcare providers, it seems that's the solution for everything.  It's not helpful to visit a doctor who can't see past a patient's size.

I have a friend who, until very recently, was very slender and petite.  She has gained a lot of weight over the past year or so.  Why?  Because her thyroid gland crapped out.  She's now significantly overweight, despite having been tiny for most of her life.  I'm sure people who don't know her assume that she eats a lot of junk and doesn't exercise.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have another friend who became a type 2 diabetic after giving birth to five kids and going through menopause.  She is heavy, but she's also fit.  She runs half marathons with her twin daughters and works full time as a nurse.  She's also a good cook who knows the value of nutrition.  Yet many people probably look at her and think she's irresponsible and in need of shaming and/or advice about her diet and exercise regime.

I am myself a big lady and have never spent a single night in a hospital since I left babyhood.  I haven't taken any prescription drugs of any kind since 2004, except for prophylaxis antibiotics I took last year after I had a dental implant placed.  Granted, I haven't seen a doctor since 2010, but I think if I were unhealthy, I would have had a real need to be seen.  There may come a time in the future when I do become sick.  It might even be because of obesity.  However, obesity is just one risk factor and causative agent for becoming sick.  What's more, if you're overweight, you still have to live.  Is it healthy to go through life worried sick that your body is going to turn on you?

I really related to Oluo's essay.  I have spent a good portion of my life hating my body, even though it's strong and basically healthy.  I don't fit the image of beauty that many people have, but some people also think I'm "unhealthy".  Well, if I am able to do all I want to do and my body performs as it should, how can I be "unhealthy"?  Maybe I am at risk for getting sick, but I would venture to guess that most anyone is "at risk" for getting sick for any number of reasons.  Far too many people are far too free with their opinions about other people's lifestyles.  And most of them are judgmental simply because they don't like the way another person looks.  They don't give a flying fuck about the person's health, as they so unhelpfully claim.

Life is hard enough without someone insisting that they know what's going to be another person's cause of death.  The truth is, everyone dies and no one knows what is going to cause death.  I prefer to enjoy my life rather than listen to other people's opinions about my appearance and whether or not I'm "healthy" enough for them.

Rant is now over.  Hopefully tomorrow, I will find something new to bitch about.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The beauty of not living a 24/7 lifestyle...

I didn't write yesterday because the Internet was down until the afternoon.  I took it as a sign that I needed to take a day off from writing.  I will definitely be writing about our trip on my travel blog, probably starting on Monday, when we get back to Germany.  I would start writing now, but the sun is out and I think there may be a chance that we'll go out and do something today.

Yesterday, I spent the morning napping.  The bed in this house isn't great, but it's especially not great when you share it with two dogs and a man.  I didn't sleep that well the first night here and made up for it after breakfast.  Then Bill and I walked the dogs, brought them back, and walked down to the main drag for lunch.  We spent a couple of hours enjoying a simple Italian meal.  Then we came back to the house, turned on music, and drank wine.  The weather was a bit stormy, so we watched the clouds over the lake and I took lots of pictures.  Anyway, I'll write more specifically about that on the travel blog.

It's been really great to get out of Germany.  I need the occasional change of scenery to remind me why living in Europe is worthwhile.  Actually, it's worthwhile to Bill and me for a lot of reasons.  I think some Americans don't like living in Europe because it's not as convenient as the United States is.  There isn't a 24/7 lifestyle in Europe.  People take days off and things move at a slower pace.  You can't always go grocery shopping in Europe on Sunday like you can in the States.  

The lack of a 24/7 lifestyle is precisely why I like Europe.  I like the fact that people aren't work obsessed and there's time to look around and smell the flowers.  I like all of the different types of people here and the many things to see and do.  I like that sometimes, I'm forced to take a day off from writing blogs because the Internet isn't working.  I need to be reminded sometimes that I lived over half my life without Internet access.  It wasn't a bad thing not to be connected to my electronics all the time, especially since they tend to cause me a lot of angst.

Think of the time I spend writing about Facebook, which I realize is pretty much a waste of time.  I mean, sure, I have met new people and learned new things courtesy of the Internet.  I have been able to keep in touch with some people that I might have otherwise lost track of years ago.  But then, some of those people turn out to be jerks.  Or they think I'm a jerk.  It's nice when you can unplug and remind yourself that life is best lived offline.

Well... the Internet is being wonky again today, so I'll stop here.  In a couple of days, I'll have lots to share about this trip.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My male Facebook friends are dropping like flies...


I just lost yet another male Facebook friend I know from life off the Internet.  This time, it was another guy I knew in college.  Back in January, I lost a male college friend over Natalie Maines.  Last month, I lost a male friend and his wife, presumably over my thoughts on abortion.  Last night, I lost one over a stupid click bait article about Melania Trump.

I was feeling my oats and decided to share an article about Melania Trump.  Granted, it was a dumb article with a click bait title promising photos that Donald Trump "doesn't want you to see."  There was nothing "wrong" with the photos in the article.  In fact, my friends and I weren't even discussing the article as much as we were the Trumps.  I commented that I don't think Mrs. Trump is that beautiful because, to me, she always looks like she's scowling.  Actually, so does Donald.  But I would probably scowl too if I had to screw Donald Trump.  The point is, we weren't really discussing the actual article or the photos appearing within it.

Along comes my former Facebook friend, same guy who, just two weeks ago, complained about women who breastfeed in public.  He chimed in on the discussion.

Now, in fairness to my former Facebook friend, I probably was a bit more abrupt than I should have been.  I think I was still feeling a little perturbed by his comments about public breastfeeding and other things he's said about women over the years.  He strikes me as the type of guy who wants to appear sensitive and evolved, but regularly lets sexist attitudes slip out.  I am usually fairly forgiving and ignore those comments, but I was kind of on edge last night.  Also, it was after dinner and I'd had more than a couple of drinks.  Anyway... he posts a comment that there's "nothing wrong with the photos".

I said, "I never said anything was *wrong* with the photos.  She was obviously a successful model at one time."

Then he complained about the clickbait title, to which I responded that I didn't "come up with the title."

But then he wrote this...

I just commented on the title. Ease up. If you post something, expect the world to scrutinize every detail. That's how the internet works.

That comment is what flipped my bitch switch.  So I wrote this.

It's my page... and I am not the one scrutinizing. You are.

I now realize that I misread what he wrote, probably because the condescending tone of his post set me off.  But, in fairness to him, my tone was also a little hostile.  That's probably because I wondered why he was looking at photos that Donald Trump supposedly didn't want him to see.  It seemed to me he was disappointed that they weren't more scandalous.  And it was also fresh in my mind that this is the same guy who apparently thinks breastfeeding mothers should be forced to cover up.

Anyway... the conversation continued thusly...

I was actually very calm when I wrote my comments and not really "upset".  I would say that if I was feeling anything last night, it was annoyed.  But even if I was feeling upset, it would be my prerogative and my right to express that, especially on my own fucking Facebook page.

Again, in fairness to him, I suppose I could have been nicer.  He happened to catch me at a bad time.  He probably also doesn't know that I have issues with authority sometimes.  Or... people who think they have authority over what I can and can't say or how I express myself.  I look at my Facebook page and my blogs as my "home".  I wouldn't go into someone's home and tell them to "Ease up." or "Relax." or "Chill out."  It just seems rude to me.  

Actually, last night's exchange seemed a bit more like "projection" to me.  Looking back at that post about projection, it occurs to me that he's the one who inspired that one, too!  He accused me of "projecting" because I don't like the Olive Garden.  And now he's telling me I'm "upset" when he has no way of knowing what my actual feelings are.  If he had been talking to me in person, he would have heard me speaking in a calm tone of voice.  But he assumes I'm "upset" because I asked him not to tell me what to do or presume how I feel.  I'm probably more upset as I type this than I was last night when this happened.    

Anyway... he did unfriend me.  It's probably for the best.  It's not the first time he's annoyed me and, I'm sure, I have been regularly annoying him, too.  I get the sense that he likes women who are quieter, more demure, and "nicer" than I am.  I do have an edge and can be bitchy sometimes.  Aside from that, if a disagreement about a stupid clickbait post about Melania Trump is enough to make you want to cut ties with someone, you weren't really friends in the first place.  But, I will be 45 years old next month and I don't see myself changing.  I was moved to post the following status.

I really need a change of scenery.  Glad I'm getting the hell out of Dodge.

Well, it's time to pack a bag and head to Italy.  Hopefully, tonight, I'll be sitting in a really nice restaurant instead of posting on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Goodbye zero balance...

Last night, Bill called Hebridean Island Cruises and paid off the balance of the cruise we're planning to take in September.  I was a little sad to do it, since I've had a negative credit card balance for the past month.  That hasn't happened since the mid 1990s, when I lived in Armenia.  The balance for the cruise was a hefty hunk of change and I still need to buy plane tickets, so it may take a couple of months to get everything back down to a debt free balance.  We have been saving for the trip, though, so it won't take years.  ;-)

We still don't know if Bill is going to be able to take this trip with me, although it does look like we won't have to move this summer.  Bill's job interview was rather cursory, seemed to go very well, and afterwards, he was told someone from the benefits department would be calling him to tell him about what the company offers.  So I have a feeling he'll get an offer and it would really have to be poor for him not to take it.  If Bill isn't able to go, either his mom will go with me or I'll just go alone.  The dogs are already booked for boarding and I know where to go in Scotland to catch the bus to the ship.

I hope if Bill gets the job, he'll be able to negotiate coming with me on the cruise.  A lot of people will be starting the job at the same time, which means they will be accruing time off at the same rate.  I figure many of them will want to go somewhere for Christmas or Thanksgiving.  We don't have a need to go anywhere during those times and Bill can stay in town and cover for those who want to go home.  The time we want to travel is just after Labor Day, which means a lot of people will be at work.  By contrast, we could be in town for Labor Day, just as we plan to be local for Memorial Day (Bill's boss is going to Spain).

In a way, it would be interesting if I went on the trip alone.  I haven't done anything like that without Bill in a very long time.  I would miss having him with me, but it would also give me a chance to function by my lonesome.  And that would be good for me...  Besides, Hebridean takes excellent care of its passengers anyway.  I still want Bill to come, though.  I would miss him if he didn't.

Tomorrow, we are headed to Italy for a long weekend.  We're bringing the dogs with us and I hope for delicious food, good wine, and beautiful scenery.  It's been really nice to be able to take these long weekend trips to different places.  One luxury about living in Europe is that you can see a lot of places that aren't necessarily tourist destinations.  We are going to Lake Como, which we have seen before, but this time, we're staying in an apartment right on the lake.

Last time, we stayed in a hotel on a mountain near the lake.  There were no lake views, although the hotel itself was pleasant enough and offered good food.  Actually, the last time we were in the vicinity of Lake Como, we got trapped. But we were only there for the day as opposed to spending the night.  I hear there are storms expected on Friday.  Hopefully, they won't affect us too much.  I could just hang out in the apartment and watch the storm while sipping wine.  That would actually make me happy!

I actually prefer to stay in hotels.  I like really nice hotels with good bedding and awesome showers.  But it sure is nice to be able to bring our dogs with us when we can't book them somewhere.  I would rather not have them with us on vacation, but in some ways it's nice to be able to have them.  It means we save money and don't have to worry about dropping them off or picking them up.  Also, although they can get into trouble when they're with us, we also don't have to wonder how they're doing.

It may seem like we're always taking trips.  Our last one was in February to a tiny French town in Burgundy.  Even though no one has really heard of St. Marcelin de Cray, that trip remains very memorable in a good way.  I'm hoping this weekend's trip is similarly awesome.  At the very least, I hope to eat some good fish or something.

Well, it's time to get dressed and walk the dogs... then I'll make pasta sauce and maybe vacuum and do a load of laundry.  Yep.  I got big plans for the day.

But tomorrow, I get to see this again...