Archive for September, 2009

Home Sweet Home

After 740 miles, 15 hours of driving, 3 coffees, 4 diet cokes, 2 Balance bars and one night at a Country Inn and Suites, we are finally at home in the house my great-great-grandfather built. I giggled to myself most of the way about how I managed to lure Mr. Farmer to live in this historic house, sight unseen. (He just told me that he’s laughing on the inside about living in a Norman Rockwell painting, so I think our marriage will survive.)

Fortunately the journey was uneventful once we got underway. I thought the packing job was never going to end, and it was a good thing we hired guys to load our 26-foot U-Haul. It’s also a good thing our friend Glenn and his buddy accompanied us on the trip with their big pick-up pulling another box trailer (also packed to the brim). Otherwise we would’ve found ourselves back at U-Haul for another trailer.

To be clear, 80% of the stuff is Mr. Farmer’s. He’d lived in his house for 11 years and owns a complete set of equipment for every hobby and home improvement project known to man. Which makes him endlessly attractive, but a little expensive when it comes to moving. (And all this is after 7 trips to goodwill and completely filling a dumpster!)

We finally got away from the Chicago suburbs around 3:15, under cloudy skies and the threat of rain. The winds nearly did the U-Haul in, especially given that it was at least 5 inches lower on the right side from uneven weight distribution. I, on the other hand, had the cushy job of driving the Tacoma.

It’s really too bad that I learned the best way to lure a dude now that I’m married. Simply drive around a pick-up towing a boat. I’ve never gotten so much attention. And they all seemed to think I was really going fishing. The first comment was always from the guy at the next pump: “Gee, I’d like to be fishing today.” Then the guys running in for a soda would add, “Wow, and she’s by herself!” The dudes buying chew at the register would top it off with, “How much does a boat like that set a guy back?”  The really clever ones asked, “She’ll really get points if she can back it.”

With that much driving time, I turned to my cell phone for entertainment. I called Mr. Farmer at least every 10 minutes, even though he was right in front of me. Usually it was to point out amazing landmarks, like the Wendy’s at BETO Junction.

Ma and Pa, bless their hearts, commissioned a new paint job for the barn and garage. (They seem to be slightly excited about the prospect of having us as neighbors.) As of last night, the Floridian kin of an Amish guy who dad knows had finished priming both buildings. PINK! Yes, according to Mom, they were a lovely shade of mauve.

I just about couldn’t take the excitement of the trick I was cooking up for Mr. Farmer. Of course it would depend on the painters not showing up today, which was highly unlikely, given they’re men of God.

But I laid the groundwork anyway this morning as we were brushing our teeth: “Oh yeah, Mom said they are painting the barn a different color.”

“Do you know what color it is?” he asked.

“I dunno, some shade of red, I assume.”

“I hope it’s not pink.”

Who ever heard of a pink barn? He must have ESP. I am very proud of my straight face.

Of course, by the time we got there, there was only a trace of pink. So I had to explain the story. He got a good laugh, but we didn’t get to have the totally funny conversation of me saying, “Oh no! You can’t tell mom and dad you hate it — it would offend them.” Then go to them and say, “What a great color” and go on and on in conversation with only him being out of the know.

Movers met us on this end, too, to help unload the truck. We have three excellent bedrooms upstairs in the house, but unfortnately none of our beds fit up the stairs. So I guess all our guests will have to sleep on air beds. At least there’s a spare room on the main floor for our very excellent king. I suppose I’ll avoid telling him the part about that room being used to watch dead bodies of my kin to keep the rats away before burial.

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The Travel Doc

When it became apparent that our trip would take us to places with weird tropical diseases, Mr. Farmer and I each made an appointment with a travel doctor to figure out what vaccinations and prescriptions we’d need to get. I opted to go to the travel clinic at Northwestern Memorial, since it’s close to my office, and I’d heard that they give great advice. Technically I would be seeing a travel nurse, not a doctor, but that’s neither here nor there.

My first appointment was a month ago, and they told me to eat a full breakfast before an hour before my appointment, then arrive 15 minutes early with my vaccination record and itinerary in hand. So I hopped on the early train, grabbed a bagel sandwich and decaf coffee at Dunkin Donuts in the train station, and set out for my medical adventure.

When they called my name, I was led by my middle-aged friendly (male) travel nurse into a typical exam room, atypically equipped with a desktop computer. He had my itinerary from when I made the appointment, so he already had a stack of maps showing the malaria risk in the countries we’d be visiting. We went over the route in detail, taking note of where we would be when. Interestingly some malaria drugs can’t be used in certain countries because there’s a resistance built-up. He prescribed me Malarone, which is a pill that you start taking two days before you enter the malaria zone and continue take until seven days after you leave it. And I didn’t know that malaria risk is only from dusk to dawn, unlike the risk for Dengue Fever and Japanese Encephalitis, both of which you catch through mosquito bites during the day. (There’s no vaccine for Dengue, and the one for Japanese Encephalitis apparently can have some nasty side effects, so unless there’s major risk, he didn’t recommend it.)

Next we went through my list of routine vaccinations to see if I was up to date. He wrote down that I’d need a polio booster (since I hadn’t had one since age 20 and we’ll be going to Africa, where polio still exists), a tetanus booster, and vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B (now given in the same shot). He asked if we’d be staying is hostels, and though the answer is technically no, I told him that we were planning a 4-day hike in New Zealand and would be staying in bunkhouses along the way. He thought it would be a good idea to get a meningitis shot since we’d be sleeping in the same room with people we don’t know.

Then we talked about Tanzania, which has both the risk for yellow fever and typhoid. With yellow fever, it’s not an issue of having the vaccine before getting into a country with a yellow fever risk, but rather an issue of getting into other countries after being in an at-risk country. For typhoid, he had two options for me – one was a shot that would last two years, and the other was a series of four live vaccine pills taken every other day, which would last five years. I opted for the second, just in case we decide to go nuts and move to Nairobi or something.

He also prescribed an antibiotic for diarrhea (which he assured me that I would no doubt get – it’s just a matter of time).
Finally, we talked about shots for both the flu and swine flu. He suggested shots for both, though we’ll have to find the H1N1 shot when we’re already travelling because it won’t be out before we depart.

All in all, I would need 7 shots. We opted to split it up, so that unlike Mr. Farmer who got 6 in one fell swoop, I’d get 3 that visit and 4 the next.

Shots aren’t my favorite thing, but in truth it wasn’t that bad. And the only side effect was exhaustion by 8:00 p.m.

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I stand corrected

1. “American Wife” is not written by a dude. Curtis Sittenfeld is a woman. Who knew?

2. “American Wife” is actually quite gripping. I’m actually excited about the 4+ hour ride home from Fort Wayne so that I can bury my nose in it. After reading 150 pages, I’m already excited about reading “Prep” by the same author.

It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting in the 3rd floor lobby of Grandma Farmer’s retirement home typing on one of the two shared computers. The type on the screen is about 27 pt, which means I can only see one sentence at a time. Yes, I know I could change it, but that would be too much work.

Grandma has been knitting and crocheting up a storm, as usual. We now have THREE Christmas stockings for our future children, as well as a zoo of the cutest knitted animals ever. I really love them. Click here for an idea of what I’m talking about, but the patterns she has are even more scrumptious.

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Rediscovering the Library

Earlier this summer, Mr. Farmer and I stopped by the village library when out on one of our evening walks. We couldn’t believe the travel book section! Seriously, I think there are more travel books (and recent ones) than you find at Borders. So we checked out books for like eight countries.

Tonight I felt the need to get out and move around in the lovely weather, so we decided to take the Fiji and safari planner books back and trade them for the places we recently added to our itinerary: Hong Kong, Cairo and Bali.

While we were there, it occured to me that I can actually read books for FREE instead of paying $10 for each one on the Kindle! Shocking! I picked up The Lovely Bones, which is coming out as a movie. (I saw the trailer on Tuesday while at the theater for Julie & Julia.) I’ve been avoiding that book for years because I typically don’t like to read things that creep me out, and given that it’s told by a girl who is watching the aftermath of her murder from heaven, I figured it fit that bill. My friend Chris assures me it’s not going to give me nightmares, and though she’s an admitted true crime junkie, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

I also checked out American Wife, which I’ve been eyeing since our honeymoon. (How fitting.) I’m slightly skeptical, since it’s written by a dude, and that dude wrote Prep. We’ll see.

For now I’ve set them all aside, however, to watch Project Runway and gather my crap for a weekend in Fort Wayne with Momma Farmer and Grandma Farmer.

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