In January we traveled to Pennsylvania for a big 90th birthday bash for The Husband's paternal grandparents. They live out in ECBF, 4 hours from any major airport (Philly, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, DC - all 4 hours away). At one point during the trip the rental car's temperature gauge read 9 degrees. This is one of the reasons I fled the Northeast. I also managed to get into a fight with my brother-in-law's childhood buddy at the local dive bar over his inability to just let me decide not to eat meat without giving me an ass-load of grief. Apparently, it was personally insulting to him that I was choosing not to eat meat.
We made our annual trip to Spring Training in Phoenix, AZ in March where we drank lots of beer from Four Peaks Brewing Company and saw the infamous Milwaukee Brewer's Sausage Race. I was slapped with a Red Light Violation ticket in Mesa upon our arrival home, but managed to avoid that mess entirely by never acknowledging it. Ha! If there's anything I am good at it's researching codes and reading obscure legal documents.
May rolled around and we were off to Italy. First time out of the country for The Husband, and for me, first time back to the Old Country since 2000. It was a short trip but lots of pizza, wine, Grappa, pictures, and cherries were eaten. Not the pictures, pictures were not eaten. Sorry. The Euro was impossibly high so shopping was minimal which was kind of poopy. It was also the first time I ever drove in a foreign country. My aunt and father had to convince my mother and grandmother that we would be OK driving the little Fiat 500 by ourselves to the condo 25 minutes down the road. That is was unlikely they'd find us dead in a ditch somewhere as a result of driving on paved roads with a functioning cell phone and the ability to speak basic Italian. It wasn't until 2 days before we left that they finally picked the worrisome wedgie out of their butt-cracks and let us drive ourselves back to the condo rather than all this business of driving back and forth, dropping us off and picking us up.
In June we had to say good-bye to "Old Dirt" which royally sucked. Rusty was likely around 13 or 14 years old and had been battling an illness for more than 6 months. He was with us for about a year and a half - I hope it was good for him. He was a trouble maker of sorts, but, really, just a big dopey sweetheart of a dog.
In July we were presented with a gift from the Most Overpriced Purchase of Our Lives. The house vomited up a slab leak resulting in 4 days without running water and a $5600 plumbing bill. Nice.
In August we took a break from drawing feverishly on graph paper figuring out how we were going to deal with kitchen and slab leak damage and went to camping in Mammoth (my first time up there) with one of my coworkers. Gas was somewhere around $4.50 a gallon, so we rented a Prius for the 6 hour drive. We also accidentally stumbled upon I place I never thought I would find - the terminus of US Route 6, the first cross-country route that runs though my hometown and once brought prosperity in the form of Cape Cod bound drivers frequenting local motels and shops. Then they built a freeway replace a chunk of Route 6 for traffic relief and the city has never recovered. It has remained a shit-hole since the 1960s.
Sheesh, we sure seem to travel a lot. All these short excursions. In September, The Husband HAD to see Yankee Stadium before they tore it down so we went to NYC for a few days. I got to see my college pals and even my oldest childhood friend who came down from Boston. I navigated some Brooklyn subway lines (in 4 years of college, I never spent any appreciable amount of time in that borough), visited my Alma Mater, and ate some good food. Can't beat good food and friends with a stick. Or at least you shouldn't. Beat them with a stick. Anyway.
Right after the NYC trip we jumped head-first into the kitchen remodel and water damage repair. Obviously, the remodel is still ongoing, but within 8 weeks we had a functional kitchen that looked vastly different than the original. Thus far, the cost is somewhere around 12K which, really, isn't that much for a brand new kitchen, thanks to DIY efforts and bargain-hunting. Oh, and we also dealt with unwelcome furry bastards (mice) and, while I am a bleeding-heart liberal, under no circumstances will I live amongst dirty rodents, so we managed to catch four of them. Haven't heard or seen any evidence of them since.
During October we made one more trip, or rather I made one more trip with my parents in tow, to Las Vegas. I spent a long hot Saturday canvassing North Las Vegas for the Barack Obama presidential campaign and I'm so glad I did it. Sure, I met one wacko old fogy that called him a radical Muslim, but other than that, the folks in Nevada were A-OK.
Financially, the year 2008 could have been better. It could have been a heck of a lot worse, too. We lost around 90K of our net worth, which is nearly all of it (if the housing market continues, we will soon have a negative net worth). This year has shown us that we ain't goin' anywhere as far as our living situation (unless something drastic happens like we lose our jobs and can't pay the mortgage anymore and they foreclose on our house. Leave it to me to think of the worst possible outcome). San Diego will be semi-permanent seeing as it'll take at least 5 years to crawl out of the mortgage hole. Considering everything crappy that happened to the economy, this year we managed to pay off two student loans, and my car. This is a big deal for me - three loans completely wiped off the books with one more car getting paid off next month! All-in-all, it hasn't been so bad. We still have our jobs, our health, our family, and our furball. I am very grateful for that - it's all I can ask for in the end.
Happy New Year, Everyone!