Thursday, May 31, 2007

25 May: Goodbye, USA - Hello, Jetlag!

I had breakfast with a couple former co-workers at the Downtown Cafe and then John picked me up at 9:30 to take me over to the doctor’s office. My doctor had talked to the cardiologist’s office and confirmed that all my test results were normal. She said they might not be able to tell me exactly what was causing the irregularity, which I found hard to believe since I can feel it so distinctly! The whole experience has been rather frustrating, but I'm glad to know that I don't have a life-threatening condition.

John dropped me off back at the house and then went off to have lunch with some friends from Chrysler while I went about vacuuming, doing laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, and generally preparing the house for another long period of vacancy. I even had time to play my piano for a bit, discovering that it was not so terribly out of tune as I had expected, and called a couple of friends that I hadn't had a chance to visit during the week. When John came back from lunch we shut off the water, turned down the thermostat, and put antifreeze down all the drains. I felt more comfortable leaving the house this time, having done it all once before.

We had an hour to kill before we needed to leave for Pontiac, so we drove up the street to the brand new Papa Joe’s Market, which is a self-described gourmetrion. If there’s one thing to look forward to when we move back to Michigan, it’s being able to walk a couple blocks up the road to shop at this amazing market! It’s a two-level extravaganza of groceries and gourmet cuisine, complete with wine tasting bar and open kitchens on the top floor. We stopped at the neighboring Starbuck’s for frappacinos and strolled around the new mall for a few minutes before heading to the airport in Pontiac.

Interestingly, the flight back to Stuttgart was nearly full - and, with the exception of one American woman and us, all Germans. One of them was carrying a traditional U.S. mailbox covered with signatures - apparently they are coveted souvenirs over in Deutschland. The woman who always checks us in at Pontiac insisted that they have heard no rumors that the shuttle will stop flying on July 1. Nevertheless we treated it like our last corporate shuttle flight. We left early (that’s the wonderful thing about a private jet – if everyone checks in early, you can leave early) and the trip went by in a blink of an eye – only 7.5 hours with good tailwinds. I knitted my way through A Good Year (which we had rented just a couple of weeks ago) and we both watched Charlotte’s Web. Dinner was quite good: spinach and artichoke-filled pastry; green salad with pine nuts, blue cheese, dried cherries, and raspberry vinaigrette; choice of lamb with curry sauce, chicken cordon bleu, or seafood Alfredo; and raspberry torte for dessert. Try as we might, even in those cushy seats, we couldn’t get to sleep (we never can – even after guzzling several glasses of wine). They turned on the overhead lights what seemed like minutes after the second movie ended, and then it was time for breakfast. I couldn’t bring myself to eat another huge meal (french toast, fresh fruit, cold cuts, cheese, and croissants) so I just had the yogurt topped with granola and fruit.

We arrived in Stuttgart a full hour early – 6:15 a.m. on Saturday morning. We picked up our luggage, went through customs, loaded everything into the E-Class, and drove home, where we promptly fell asleep for nearly three hours. Fortunately we had set the alarm for 10:30 so we could pick up the pets before the Tierhotel closed at noon.

Cody was happy to see us as usual, but Herr Ratibor told us that Scotty had come down with diarrhea as soon as he had arrived and did poorly all week. I had to explain two or three times that Scotty had not been sick before we brought him in. I thought Herr Ratibor understood me but when I said that Scotty had just been to the vet right before we left, Herr Ratibor asked, “But you did not tell him the cat had diarrhea?” So I had to explain again that Scotty was fine prior to our trip. Honestly I am surprised that they did not take him to a vet if he was that sick all week. Unfortunately I think that Scotty’s problem is largely psychological: I imagine he is incredibly stressed by the communal lifestyle at the Tierhotel and I don’t think the change in food agrees with him either.

When we got home I immediately took Scotty upstairs to give him a bath, only to discover that the hair above his eyes had been rubbed thin and he had some sore spots on his skin. It looked like he had been rubbing up against something all week, or else frantically washing his face over and over. Suffice it to say that we have decided we need to find Scotty a kennel where he can have private accommodations. That will be my task next week, since our next trip (to the U.K.) is coming up quickly in mid-June.

We took another nap in the afternoon and then went down to Neukauf to pick up some groceries to get us through the long weekend (Monday is a holiday).

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