It’s time for my monthly post

Wow, has it really been nearly a month already?  I am so pathetic.  Thank you to the four of you who check in now and then.  You’re really loyal, and I adore you!

So, the countdown to our departure is on.  20 days to go, but with everything that’s going on leading up to our departure on May 19 (YS’s birthday, btw), it’s more like 14.  The next 20 days are going to be so stressful.  At some point before May 17 we have to move most of YS’s stuff home from school so that on May 17 we have only the basics left to move.

Next weekend is Bloomsday, the world’s largest timed run.  It’s always on the first Sunday in May, and I have participated in it every year for – well, years. Again, this year I am in horrible shape, so it’s going to be grueling.  In addition to The Daughter, Granddaughter2 will be doing it with us.  She’s 9.  She is so excited!  She’s been doing a jog-a-thon at school every morning, and has been running 4 miles before school every day, so she’ll probably outlast both her mother and me.  It will be fun, and hopefully the start of a new family tradition.

The following weekend will pretty much be our only opportunity to move YS’s stuff out.  Then he has finals, and as luck would have it, he has a final at 3PM on Friday, the 16th – the last possible time a final can be given.  That’s going to make things even more hectic.  On the 17th we’ll move his computer, refrigerator, and clothing home, and prepare for graduation ceremonies the following day.  Hopefully, YS will follow my instructions and set aside the clothes he is taking on the trip, make sure they’re all clean, and be pretty much packed.  Knowing YS, that won’t happen.

Graduation ceremonies are at 3PM on Sunday.  I suspect they’ll last at least 2 hours, which means we’re going to be in a mad dash to get home, finalize our packing, and try to get a decent night’s sleep.  Our plane leaves at 1PM on Monday, which means we have to be at the airport by 11AM, which means we need to leave the house by 8:30AM.  We’re going to drive YS’s car so we can leave it at Oldest Son’s house while we’re gone.  OS is going to drive us to the airport, and then pick us up at the ungodly hour of midnight on June 7 when we get back.  Just putting this itinerary down is making me stressed.  Somehow, during that crazy graduation weekend, we have to go over all the plans for taking care of the house, the fish, the cat, the plants, the yard, and Riley with The Daughter, finish our packing, go over all the last minute checklists, and make sure we’re really ready to leave.  It’s daunting, and it takes away a little bit from the excitement of going.  I suppose I won’t get to finally be really excited until we’re sitting on the plane.

On another note, I’ve been trying like mad to get in touch with my family in my grandfather’s hometown in Italy.  The woman from whom we’re renting the apartment in Rome went so far as to call them and explain who I was (who my grandfather was).  They said they didn’t know who I was, and had never heard of my grandfather.  This town has all of 1200 residents.  There is no way that someone with our family last name is not a relative, or that any relative, no matter how distant, wouldn’t know about the only family member who emigrated to America.  The woman got an email address for me, so I emailed and explained again who I was.  I explained that I only want to know my family history, that I only want to meet my cousins.  I have emailed twice, and have received no reply.  I don’t understand what gives.  I don’t know if the family members I have numbers for are so young they truly don’t know about my grandfather, or if maybe they’re all afraid I’m coming to claim some inheritance or something.  I told them over and over in emails that I don’t want anything, so why haven’t they responded.  My dad mentioned that my uncle visited Monteleone a year-and-a-half ago and received a similarly cool reception.  I need to call my uncle and find out more.  I had never heard that he’d visited Monteleone before, so I want to verify the information.  If it’s true, it’s weird.  When my brother visited in 1980, he was welcomed with arms wide open.  What has changed?  I hope once we’re there to go ahead and visit Monteleone and find out for myself.  Apparently, according to my brother, the convent there has all the family records.  At the very least, I want to see the lineage – the names of my grandfather’s siblings, parents, and grandparents.  I would like to bring that back with me.

I’ve been studying French, and surprisingly, I’m learning a lot!  I know how to say “I want” and “I have” along with lots of nouns to go with those phrases.  Actually, the best part is I’m learning how to pronounce written French words.  There are so many silent letters, it’s crazy.  But I’m learning.  I’m also brushing up on my Italian.  I was surprised by how much I still remember.  I had the CD in the car, and as the woman was saying the English phrases, I was saying the Italian ones before the Italian speaker did more than half the time.  I was proud of myself!  🙂

On yet another note, YS didn’t get the internship.  🙁  Apparently, Intel requires a 3.0 GPA for interns, and YS’s GPA slipped below 3.0 after a disastrous Fall semester.  Now he’s trying to find a job in Tacoma for the summer so he can be near the girlfriend.  We’ll see how that goes.  The girlfriend’s parents are well-connected, so he’s hoping they can help him land a decent paying job.  If that doesn’t happen, he’ll be spending the summer here again, working locally.

And finally, 5 students, all freshmen, from YS’s dorm were in Montana over the weekend.  A deer jumped out in front of them, and the driver swerved to miss it, hitting a semi head-on.  Four of them escaped with minor injuries, but a fifth student had to go into surgery with two broken legs and other injuries.  Apparently, his brain began swelling, and he went into a coma.  The entire campus was praying for him.  Sadly, he passed away yesterday morning.  It’s a small school, so it has touched everyone.  The university president sent out a really touching email to all the students.  YS’s dorm is very somber.  There are only 70 guys in the dorm, and they’re all pretty close. YS knew the boy, but didn’t hang out with him.  He did, however, hang out with the driver and some of the passengers.  The driver is blaming himself, though of course, it wasn’t his fault.  When four escape with minor injuries, and one dies, well…. to me, it says it was his time.  God has other plans for him.  I know some of you will roll your eyes over that, but it’s what I believe.  It’s still a sad, heartbreaking time for everyone who knows these kids.  It comes just two weeks before finals, too.  How do these kids prepare for finals with this weighing on them?  It’s such a tragedy.  So, if you have a moment, pray for the kids who were in the car, the driver, the kids in the dorm, and all the friends and family of the boy who passed away.  They’re going to need all the support they can get.

I’m here again!

Wow, twice in two days….that’s a recent record.  Just a brief one today.

We have visitors from a library in Oregon in today, and we had visitors from a library in eastern Washington yesterday.  Why?  Because we were a beta site for our library vendor’s new version of software, and now that it’s being released, libraries who are going to be updated in the next few weeks want to see the new version in real life.  We’re the only beta site in this part of the country, so they’re coming here, which is fine with me.  I spent yesterday showing the Washington librarians all the features of the new version, then they spent a bit of time with some of the staff watching them do their jobs using the new version.  Today will be more of the same, though going on all day rather than just from 8-noon.  It will be a good day.

YS and his girlfriend came home for a few days of Spring Break.  She is a really sweet girl, and quite the kidder.  She gave The Spouse a hard time on several occasions, which was fun to watch.  She taught us a new card game called “Hand & Foot”.  It’s sort of like rummy, but not.  It was fun!  At the beginning of Spring Break they went to her house in Tacoma.  Her dad is an engineer for Intel (did I mention that already?).  YS job-shadowed him last Monday, then visited my friend who works for ESPN.com to get a feel for the kinds of computer science jobs out there.  The cool thing is that Intel has an internship this summer, and YS has a pretty good shot at it.  It pays $25/hour and includes a housing and transportation subsidy!  If YS gets it, I won’t have to take out a loan for his last semester!  YAY!  And… if he does well, he’s got a job upon graduation.  Now, how cool is THAT?  Sheesh – he’d be making almost what I make.  Crazy, but awesome.

Okay, shower time.. thanks to all of you who are still here… I know it’s hard to even be interested when someone doesn’t post for weeks on end.  I really do hope to remedy that soon.

I’m back for a visit

Edit: March 31 – I made this post 10 days ago, and I could SWEAR I published it.  I was surprised that I hadn’t had any comments, considering I’d actually updated.  I upgraded my WordPress installation, which required me to come into my blog’s dashboard, and lo and behold – the post was in my drafts folder.  Doh!  No wonder none of you had commented on this post!  It wasn’t published.  So, here it is…  and for the record, I’ll be posting a bit later today.  Now, on to the unpublished post:

Hi gang! How the heck have you all been? Is anyone still left out there? I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted, but I’ve had good reasons. And I’m probably not going to be back posting daily for a while, but I’m going to shoot for at least once a week.

So, a lot has transpired over the past several weeks. I completed a major implementation at work, which was a big part of why I’ve been MIA. I have to tell you, the product we implemented, a patron access management solution, is awesome! I wish we’d gone with this product from the beginning. It does everything we had hoped the previous product would do, and more. But it was a project getting it installed and configured properly. Additionally, we’ve been beta testing the newest version of library circulation software from our software vendor. That has been interesting. While I, of course, was all gung ho about being a beta site, the rest of the staff was not so keen on the idea. We had a few hurdles to jump, but the product is in release now, and we got to help make it all it has become! How cool is that? I really like the new version. For the most part, the staff does too, though some people struggle with change and almost refuse to give up old habits. The new version makes so many tasks so much faster to accomplish, but if a person continues to use the old workflow to do those tasks, it actually takes much longer to do them, which makes them hate the new version. It’s sometimes difficult to teach old dogs new tricks. Those who have learned the new workflow are really happy with the new version. It’s been interesting.

And on the YS front – HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND!!! At last, a girl who really likes him, who actually sought HIM out! She is a freshman, and it’s not serious or anything, but they have a great time together, she’s very bright, and she’s a computer science major too! In fact, her dad is an engineer with Intel. We met her when she came with YS to have dinner with The Spouse and me on my birthday. She was very nervous, poor girl, and of course I asked her a million questions – the way I do anyone I meet for the first time – which probably didn’t help. I didn’t intend to make her nervous. I just like to ask people about themselves. Turns out she has had a very rough time growing up. Her parents were druggies. She ended up living in her car and supporting herself during her first two years of high school. She was adopted at 15 by the Intel engineer and his wife, and went on to earn a full ride leadership scholarship to the university she and YS attend, which says an awful lot about this girl. She can be a bit goofy, but she’s sweet, and she adores YS. He’s being very smart about the relationship – she is not the focus of his life. They like each other, spend most of their time together, but neither is getting too serious. It’s nice to hear him say “my girlfriend” finally. They are heading to her home in Tacoma today to spend Easter and part of Spring Break with her family (her adoptive parents have one natural daughter who is older than she is), then they’re heading here mid-week to stay with us for the rest of Spring Break. She has never been here, so I’m sure YS wants to show her around. It will be fun.

Riley is doing great. He’s actually been spending some of his weekdays at our house, alone, rather than at The Daughter’s with Lola. He does okay, although he still goes berserk when we get home. I just know that Lola needs a break from him now and then, so thought he should become accustomed to being alone a couple of days a week.

And finally – I’ve made all our arrangements for our trip to London, Paris, and Rome! We leave on 5/19, YS’s birthday and the day after he graduates, for London, arriving on 5/20. We spend two days in London, then take the Chunnel to Paris on 5/22. We’ll stay in Paris until 5/27, when we’ll pick up a car and drive to Normandy. We’ll spend one day seeing the WWII beaches and monuments, and one day at Mont St. Michel. We drive back to Paris on 5/29, spend two more nights there, then fly to Rome on 5/31. We spend 5 nights in Rome in an apartment that looks out at the back wall of the Vatican. Seriously – it is right across the street from the Vatican! On 6/5 we fly back to Paris for one more night and one more day. Then on 6/6 we take the Chunnel back to London, spend the night there, then fly out at 5PM on 6/7, arriving home at midnight. The only thing yet to be arranged is our stay at the hostel in Paris that YS stayed in when he was there. They don’t accept reservations more than 45 days in advance of your arrival, so I can’t make the reservations until 4/4. I got a great deal on a hotel in London – a Travelodge actually. It had great reviews in TripAdvisor and was well located in central London. It’s 81 Pounds the first two nights, but only 29 pounds the night before we leave, and while that’s still amost $400 for 3 nights, that is so much less expensive than anything else that was as well reviewed that it’s not even funny. It is expensive to sleep in London!

Rome wasn’t cheap either. The apartment I had arranged initally was only 400 euros for a week. But right before I sent her the deposit, she wrote to tell me they’d had some problem at the apartment building and would not be able to rent it out until mid-June. That apartment was about 15 minutes outside Rome. I had already found the apartment near the Vatican, but she wanted 550 euros for 5 nights plus 30 euros to clean it afterward. 180 euros difference is a lot! After I got the email about the 400 euro apartment I contacted Maria Teresa about the Vatican apartment and reserved it. The day I wired her the 150 euro deposit, the euro cost me $1.60. Ugh. So, accommodations are costing us a fortune in Rome, but a lot less than a hotel would cost. And it’s a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen, so we may save money on food. I guess you only live once, right? Now I’m just praying the dollar recovers at least a little against the euro by the time we go. When YS was there it was $1.33 to a euro. Now it’s hovering between $1.55 and $1.60. That’s going to put a bit of a crimp in the budget. But hey, that’s what the American Express card is for, right?

Did I mention it’s snowing, hard, again? Just when I thought winter was over – I could actually see my lawn in places, my crocuses are coming up, my deck was visible in places – and now this. Not cool.

Well, that’s it for now. I miss being in on what’s going on with everyone, but my life has been just too crazy to even read blogs, let alone comment, or post on my own blog. I keep thinking things will slow down, and then another project comes along. I’m beginning to think this is the way it’s going to be from now on. I hope not. Regardless, I will have a terrific 3 week vacation. But boy, we will sure miss Riley. I hope he does okay at The Daughter’s while we’re gone. I keep teasing her about treating him like a stepchild. I hope it goes well.

I promise to post again soon, and before we go for sure, I just don’t know how soon “soon” will be.

Ciao!