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Sunburned in 30 Minutes

We took a break from unpacking to visit the B & B Cactus Farm. My husband and I have been rather taken with the plants here. Cacti and just plain nifty. So we drove out to the east side of town, in an area with fantastic mountain views, and pulled into Cactus Wonderland. It was amazing. Amazing and hot.

We strolled amongst the saguaros and agaves. There was a greenhouse full of small cacti, one of succulents, one of aloe, and some others. We bought a few aloe of different forms and a few small succulents for the indoor collection.

On the way home, we went to Lowe's to get another bright yellow-orange Lantana ($2.50 a pot!) and found some sago palm for only $14 each. Crazy! We got all of that planted, and I'm still trying to decide where to put the super cheap portulaca I bought. I really need to post pictures, but I am lazy.

In any case, I had to do the planting at night because our brief visit to the cactus farm ended up with me sunburned and utterly destroyed. I have also learned that [Tucson heat] + [optic nerve damage] = [I go blind in my left eye every time I walk outside]. Good times.

On the professional front, I finally received my employee ID number, and then I could get my ID card, and now finally, the computer has done what it needed to do and I signed up for an email and computer account. I have to sign up for benefits later on, but at least I got my email set up and my new web page uploaded.

The husband leaves tomorrow, so I hope we can get the rest of the unpacking done today!

Settling In

We are here in sunny Arizona, surrounded by boxes. I am excited that the kitchen has lots of cabinets, we have a laundry room, and the front porch is really pretty.

I am trying to decide what to plant outside. There are some great trees and bushes in the yard, but I am thinking of adding some red yucca to the side of the house (outside the back door), and some aloe and agave or various kinds in containers on the front porch.

We have white oleander all down the side of the front yard and house. It looks like this:
The red yucca, which I think would be nice, looks like this:

Tomatoes apparently LOVE the Tucson sun and heat, but I'm thinking it might not be worth the extra water bill. On the other hand, I am amazed at the cheap produce here. I guess being closer to the source really pays off. Which is strange to think that we didn't get such cheap produce in San Diego, which is actually IN California.

My goal for the day is to finish unpacking everything for the kitchen, and get my ID card at the university. I need the ID card to get an email address, keys, sign up for benefits and parking. All the things I need to do tomorrow. BUT, I can't get the ID card until I get an ID number, which is still pending. It is nice to know that this university is just as bureaucratic as the other ones I've been employed by.

We're Not in Kansas Anymore...

So I'm in Deming, New Mexico for the night. We have finished up our second day of driving across the country in a moving truck (with a car towed behind). Yesterday was the killer day- from St. Paul, Minnesota, through Iowa, part of Missouri, and most of Kansas. We left at 7am and didn't get to the hotel until after 11pm. I swear that Kansas was getting longer the more we drove through it (take the limit of Kansas...). The best part of Kansas were the cows. Herds of cows hanging out on incredibly green and hilly pastures. We stayed on a road called Pancake Blvd in an area that was truly flat as a pancake.

Today was Oklahoma, Texas, and most of New Mexico. The cows in Texas weren't as nice. They were crammed into huge stockyards with no grass. Thousands of cows. I wouldn't want to be a cow in Texas. The highlight of the day was stopping in Hatch, NM. Back in my past, one of the biggest food revelations of living in Arizona was the green chile. Actually, this was so important, it deserves capital letters: Green Chile. We would leave the lab and drive to Sonic for lunch because they would make grilled cheese sandwiches with green chiles. Yum. Anyway, the chile capital of the southwest is Hatch, New Mexico. I celebrated with some local apple empanadas.

What has been really nice has been the driving. I wasn't able to drive for a number of years for medical reasons and just now got my license back earlier this year. It has been fun being able to drive and let my husband rest. He usually does so much for the family because I can't always do things. So that was nice.

We get to Tucson tomorrow morning. I have another set of movers lined up tomorrow afternoon. In between, I sign all the papers at HR and meet with one of my new post-doc advisors. Then I have the week off to settle in and unpack.

I can hardly wait to really explore a new town. Hopefully I can post some pictures once I get set up (and find my camera data cord!).

Moving sucks

That's my eloquent title today. I feel like I've been moving for over a week... because I have been moving for over a week. The day after I defended, we moved into our new St. Paul apartment. That took a few days, and we still have more to take over there. Simultaneously with that move, we've been packing up the remaining mass of our household for the move to Arizona. And I do mean mass. I am worried that it will not all fit in the truck, but I guess I'll find out very soon.

People who know me, know that I run out of energy very quickly. When I run out of energy, annoying things like not being able to walk or see tend to happen. This makes an endeavor like movng particularly difficult. So I hired some guys to pack the truck. Better them than me... or rather my husband, because there's no way I'd make it. Give me the bubble wrap and the dishes, but I'm not lifting a mattress. Funny to think that in my healthier days I worked for FedEx at their headquarters in Memphis... on the runway, moving huge freight containers and whacking things with crowbars.

But once everything is in the truck, I can breathe a little easier. The husband and I actually love driving the rental trucks. We've done it so many times now. It is rather freeing to drive across the country with no stress, in the slow lane. Our first big move driving our own truck was from Memphis to Flagstaff, Arizona. I thought we'd never get through Texas. The second one was from Flagstaff to San Diego. One couldn't wish for a more scenic and varied drive. Our most recent cross-country move was from San Diego to Minnesota. Up to LA, across Nevada, through the Rockies. With 2 cats. That was an adventure. Other than the creepy town in southern Utah we stopped in, it was fun.

Hmmm... it is looking like most things are fitting in. Wow- my loving spouse just brought me a Dove chocolate ice cream bar. It is very yummy. I guess this is my last bit of enjoyment before scrubbing out the bathroom and kitchen... and where that soda exploded into my freezer last week. Joy.

Call Me Dr. Milja

Well, I survived my defense and I didn't even need any weapons. I was surprised at how many people actually came to my talk. You'd think that Thursday morning in the middle of finals would be a deterrent, but it was nice to have an audience. I even got some really cool questions.

As for the exam part, I survived. Nothing too hard, just a nice conversation. I got my signatures and a bunch of hugs. Yay!

I am sooooo glad the whole thing is over with. I wish I could have a long vacation now. But, no. This week I get to:
  1. pack up my lab
  2. move into new apartment for husband (who is staying in our current town for job reasons)
  3. turn in revision for the article in Proceedings of the Royal Society (yay!!!)
  4. turn in final copy of dissertation and pay all the stupid fees
  5. pack up nearly everything we own for the move to Arizona
  6. Buy plane tickets for conference in Brazil
  7. Send off for visa to be allowed into Brazil
  8. And one final neurology appointment before I move
Holy cow. I think I need to take a nap from just thinking about all of that.

Watching my brother graduate

I just watched my baby brother graduate from college. He finished at Florida State University with a double major in finance and political science. I am so proud of him. It seems like only yesterday he was ripping off his clothes, running around outside and peeing into the street... oh wait, that was yesterday. (just kidding).

Once, I was visiting home from college for an academic competition, and other members of the team were staying at my parent's house in Atlanta, and my dear brother showed up wearing nothing but a bandanna tied around his waist chanting "diarrhea cha cha cha." Yes, he had diarrhea, and was giving us all minute-by-minute updates of his progress. He must have only been 6 or 7 years old.

Ahh the memories. And now he gets to find a job and be an adult. I wonder if that means I have to actually be an adult when I finally graduate??