We’ve finally found our niche, Part II … From Urban to Rural with dogs

If you haven’t already, check out Part I before continuing. Or not.

As we turned down our little Neck that would lead us to our new home, my eyes widened and my jaw may have dropped a little bit.  It looked like heaven.  A house here, a field there and there and there, another house here, a thick grove of trees on both sides of the road, a little house there, another field, and then we came upon our little bungalow.  It was, and still is, the cutest little place on a property that is magnificent!  I could hardly wait to let the dogs out to run in this wide open area!  They already had some of that at my parents’ house, but this was home!  They would get to run here every day.  But…

…crap!  There are deer all over the place.  Foxes.  Raccoons, opossums, muskrats (all things my dogs would love to chase!)…and TICKS.  I already knew there’d be fleas and was prepared for them.  But the ticks.  Yikes.

I arrived, with the dogs and cats, to our new home in early December.  The weather was cool here, with highs in the 50s & 60s and lows in the 40s and 30s.  It was really pretty nice considering what it was like when we left Northern Illinois.  There were deer everywhere.  In the midwest we contend with deer all year long.  In California, we didn’t have to deal with deer, or many other wild mammals for that matter, at all.  Those critters stayed in the mountains and foothills near the area we lived.  When we’d go hiking in the foothills we’d come across a jack rabbit here and there, maybe evidence of a coyote, but otherwise all of the wildlife we’d happen upon was avian, arachnid or reptilian.

Neither ticks nor fleas, or mosquitoes for that matter, were an issue for us in the desert.  Probably one of only 4 good things about living in the desert, in my opinion.  We didn’t have to worry about flea and tick prevention, and heartworm prevention was not a top priority either.  I would keep some Frontline Plus on hand to use if I knew we’d be making a trek up the mountains or to the East.  I’d have Heartgard Plus on hand to use if we would be traveling to the midwest.

After being on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for one entire week I learned that I had trained my dogs well in terms of their recall.  Nearly every single time we would let them out to eliminate or explore, there would be some critter worth investigating.  All it took was a “EH!” and they’d stop dead in their tracks.  So the wildlife issue was not an issue at all.  But the tick issue?  We were not only finding ticks on our dogs, but we were picking them of off ourselves every day.  Yikes!  Thank goodness I stocked up on some Frontline Plus before I left California.  It worked well.  I’d find a few well-fed ticks on Chompers and C.J. every now and again, but mostly they were dead or dying.  But they’re still just freaking gross.  Chris found one on him one day in a place that you would’t go searching for one.  It freaked him out so much that he had me shave his head shortly afterward, worried that there might be ticks hiding in his mane.  He had long hair for the majority of our time in CA, got a decent hair cut just prior to his interview here in VA, but he had never ever had a complete buzz cut.  Welcome to the boonies city boy!

Chris already had a job lined up prior to our relocation.  I had sent out resumes to all of the local veterinary clinics once I learned we’d be moving.  I had gotten a response from only one of 5 veterinary clinics on the Eastern Shore before I left CA.  They wanted me to fill out an application.  Chris went and picked one up for me, as I was still in CA and wouldn’t be leaving for a few weeks.  He filled it out to the best of his ability.  When I finally arrived on the Eastern Shore, I called and scheduled an interview at the animal hospital.

Just a few days after I arrived I visited the animal hospital that I had been in contact with.  I had a nice tour of the facility, met all the staff and then sat and chatted with the practice owner for a few minutes.  It all seemed promising, then I was told they didn’t have any positions open at that time but they would keep my application on file for 6 months.  I was a bit bummed, but I still had plenty of unpacking to do to keep me busy for a little while.    It really was a shame because the practice was less than 3 miles from where we were renting.  It would have been an ideal place for me to work!  Alas, I had to keep searching.

A month had gone by and, though I wasn’t desperately in need of employment, I was ready for a job.  I had settled into the house, unpacked what was unpackable for the short term that we’d be living there, learned to navigate my way from home to all of the important places:  DMV, grocery story, post office, hardware store, etc.  I figured out right away that I’d be spending a LOT of time shopping on Amazon.  I continued to look for work that I might be able to tolerate.  My heart and soul wanted to continue to work in the animal care field, but after having been ignored or denied employment at every veterinary facility and animal care facility (SPCA & Animal Control) I started to pick up applications for factory work and retail work. Then I received a call from the animal hospital that seemed interested in me from the beginning.

There was a recent and unexpected opening at the animal hospital and they hit me up because of my experience (ie:  I wouldn’t require much training).  I hadn’t had any other offers at that point so I took the position…as a Receptionist.  Did I want to be a receptionist?  No, because I’m a technical person, not a people-person.  But I did know how to field phone calls and triage patients at the front desk quite well, and I really needed a job so I took it.  The pay was okay, and it was more than the nothing I had been making, so I was all in!

Something was meant to be, because I was a receptionist there for maybe 6 months until I got repositioned as a veterinary assistant.  I double-dutied for the longest time, but now am able to keep to the technical stuff more, which makes me happy-er.  I am still willing to fill in on occasion when needed as a customer service specialist.  Truth is, whether you’re a receptionist, a vet assistant, a licensed vet tech, or a veterinarian…you’re still a customer service specialist!  I just prefer that title to be lower on my list of responsibilities, if you get my drift.  I went into animal science for the animals.

Again, I digress.  So I got a job!  And it was something that made me happy.  I am still there, if that tells you anything.

To be continued…

We’ve finally found our niche…Part I

…or so we think and hope.

Since we met 23 years ago, Chris and I have lived in just a few different places. We spent some time in Omaha, Nebraska while he was in graduate school. Then we took off to Southern California where we spent 8 long years on the Western edge of the Mojave Desert. We have since found ourselves on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We have been here now for 12 years and have come to love the area so much that we would love nothing more than to spend the rest of our days here.

When we were in California, Chris applied for, got and accepted a job at Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  I had never been to Virginia but had heard of and read about such areas as the Blue Ridge Mountains, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and the entire Hampton Roads area.  I was less than thrilled to be moving into a “city.”

As chance would have it, we had a friend in California that was from the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  We started to ask him for some information about the area.  As it turns out, the “Eastern Shore” is actually a little peninsula that lies between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  The area is very rural and riddled with agriculture and aquaculture.  I became very interested and wanted to learn more!  I didn’t have much time to learn about the area as Chris accepted the position and we were on our way from the West Coast to the East Coast in just a matter of a couple of months.

Chris left California and reported to work about 3 weeks before my departure from the West.  I was left behind to tie up all the loose ends; pack up the house, meet the movers, hire handymen to come in to finish all of our incomplete “home improvements,” get the house on the market, and so on.  Unfortunate for us, this relocation was happening right at the time of the last housing market crash.  We had a buyer initially, and all went well until the eleventh hour when their funding fell through and…no sale.  Thankfully these folks agreed to rent the house until they could make another attempt at purchasing the home.  We allowed this to happen because we didn’t want the house to sit vacant as we continued to pay a mortgage on it as it was losing value.  No worries, right?  That’s a whole other blog post…

After traveling far and wide with my riding partner, my adventurous Uncle Don (who flew out to CA, helped me finish up some final touches around the house for a couple of days, helped me pack what was left in the U-Haul trailer, and put up with me for about 3,000 miles), I made it to my parents’ house in Northern Illinois just before the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Chris flew out to join us for Thanksgiving.  Then he and I, Chompers, C.J., Penelope and Lazarus, finished the last leg of the move East together.

NO trip through the mountains between the months of October and April are ever going to be without some kind of weather hazard.  Well, we ended up spending the night in a parking lot outside a gas station somewhere in West Virginia/Western Maryland.  I cannot recollect the exact location, but I do remember looking for road signs for hotels and there were so few!  We saw one early on and, of course, they were NO VACANCY.  By the time we made it to this service station we were done risking the hills and winding roads while pulling a U-Haul trailer behind us!  Things got really cozy in the back of my 2001 Ford Escape with 2 big dogs and 2 cats!  We’d get up from a snooze every so often to turn the vehicle on and heat it up when needed, but we stayed relatively warm, but cramped.

The next morning we had breakfast at the little diner attached to the service station we used as a camp site.  The people were very friendly and the food was, well, it was a diner and it was breakfast.  It was eggs, bacon and toast.  Delicious always.

It took about 8 hours for us to get from our makeshift campsite to our NEW HOME on the Eastern Shore of Virginia!

I cannot lie, when we got to Annapolis and to the Bay Bridge, I was not convinced that we weren’t going to be living in a congested area.  I am not a city girl, I do not enjoy city living, and I was not about to go from where we were in Rosamond, CA to something more populated and ridiculous.  Chris assured me it would all change in just 20 minutes after we get over this ridiculously high and long bridge.  I’m glad he was driving at this point.

Wow, this post is going on a lot longer and in much more detail than I anticipated.  I think I’m going to have to do it in parts because, thinking about all of the happenings from where I started (in 2007) to today, a LOT has happened!  I’m having diarrhea of the typing fingers and thoughts I guess.  I digress…

Chris was right.  After we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Annapolis to Kent Island, it only took about 15-20 minutes before civilization nearly ceased.  There were buildings here and there along Route 13, with some homes scattered along the way.  Whenever we were coming into a town there would be your little service station, maybe a restaurant/diner or two, and some other small businesses (used car dealer, pawn shop, thrift store, coffee shop, home store, … it was varied).  I was ecstatic!  THIS is what it was like growing up where I did!  I hated it as a child and young adult, but have learned to appreciate the serenity and sense of community as I’ve aged.  I couldn’t wait to see our new, temporary home!

We signed a 6 month lease on a property that we never saw in person, but we knew they were relatively close to Wallops Island, and dogs and cats were allowed.  We figured we’d only be there for a few months anyway.  After all, our house out West was in escrow.  After we take care of that we could look into buying something out here on the Eastern Shore.  We’d find an area we really like and start seeking properties for sale.

…to be continued…