Friday, March 28, 2008


Here is Tuga showing off his new scar. It looked much worse before the stitches came out, now it is healing nicely, and soon the hair will grow back and hopefully we won't even know it is there. My hand and our couch can both attest to the fact that he is getting all of his old energy back.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I even get my own parking spot!

Portugal is known as a very child-friendly culture, and expectant mothers and those with small infants have reserved parking spots at most stores and offices.
So for those of you we haven't been able to tell personally, Dan and I are expecting the first non-furry (we hope) addition to our family, due to arrive around the 2nd of September. Since I haven't made it up to the proportions of the parking spot picture, I am not taking advantage of my special status yet, but I imagine come July and August I will be quite happy to have the option.
Now that I've made it through the first trimester and past the morning (or all day) sickness, I am happy to be able to eat again and get back to most of our normal activities, though my seltzer and lime doesn't look quite as yummy as the martini Dan is drinking while I write this. We are hoping to find out if we are having a boy or a girl sometime soon, and we are also in an ongoing discussion about whether we will have the baby here or back in the States, some pros and cons to both options, and lots of things to think about. So our lives will be changing in some major ways soon, though neither of us really knows what to expect yet! We will keep you all informed with any important developments.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Our First Visitor

One of the benefits of working with your family is that you sometimes get all-expenses paid visits from them. My brother Eric recently had to come to Portugal for business and he was able to stay a few extra days to play. He was our first visitor from home and it was nice to have the opportunity to give him an experience of our lifestyle here. This included a sunset on the beach and a bike ride in the mountains…all of it, of course, in brilliant sunshine even though it was the end of February.

We also introduced him to our local restaurant, Gafanhoto, which makes a great seafood rice. And took him (or I guess he took us) to a soccer game up in Porto. The game featured Leixoes (a Porto team) vs. Academica (from Coimbra) and neither team is all that great by professional European soccer standards, but it was still great soccer. We ended up siting in the visitors section, which was directly behind one of the goals, and completely fenced off from the other spectators. But it ended up being an exciting game with almost all of the action right in front of us. The home team was lucky to tie it during injury time on a penalty kick. You can be assured our neighbors in the visitors section were not pleased.

We spent Saturday touring some historical areas north of Porto. We went to Guimaraes, which is the unofficial birthplace of Portugal as it was the country’s first capital and the home of its first king, Afonso I. We then went to nearby Braga, home of supposedly 365 churches (it seemed to be true) before heading to Porto for the soccer game. All in all, it was great to see some family and a friendly face from back home. We were happy to be able to show Eric around (although he had been to Aveiro before), break in our guest bed, and look at our home and lifestyle from a different perspective. We look forward to having more such opportunities in the future as the rest of you come visit.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tuga's Home!

Tuga (or Frankenkitty now, due to the large scar down his belly) came home yesterday! He still has a ways to go for a full recovery, but he is doing really well. He spent his first afternoon home mostly lying on my lap and purring, and he got exuberant welcome back snuffles from both dogs (even Blaze seemed to have missed him). While his internal injuries have all been addressed, he does still have a fracture in his rear leg, but the vet wants to wait a couple of weeks to give him a chance to fully recover from surgery before she fixes the leg. Despite the leg, he is still trying to go back to all of his regular activities, while I am, of course, trying to keep him calm and relaxed. It is great to have him home, and we don't even mind that he is now the most expensive cat we've ever owned!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Think happy thoughts for us

When I arrived home from getting groceries this evening I took the dogs out to go to the bathroom. Tuga followed us across the road to the woods. Normally I lock him in the house when I walk the dogs, because he has tried to follow us before, but this time I told myself "I'll only be a second." I heard the car coming VERY FAST and tried to grab him, but he was scared by the loud noise of the engine, and made a dash for our yard, on the other side of the road. I rushed him to the vet and they operated on him, they told us some of his organs had been squeezed into into his lung cavity because of the tremendous pressure, making it so he couldn't expand his lungs to breathe. He came through the operation, and they told us if he makes it through the next 48 hours that he should recover fully. Though he also has a minor fracture in his back leg that may or may not need repair (they were not concerned about that for now).

I am feeling so very guilty right now, so many "if only I had's" through my head. But I can't change the past and now we can just hope he is making it through the night at the vet's office and we get to visit him in the morning. Here is a picture of our little guy enjoying the sun with Tazzy so you can have him in your thoughts for us.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wake up and smell the bureaucracy...

After no less than 5 trips to the "Friends and Foreigners" office (each one no less than 1 hour), I have finally obtained my resident's visa (Dan is still working on his...though he has had the work permit for a few months now). And with one day left until my Vermont driver's license expires I was able to get my temporary Portuguese license. I had been operating on a succession of tourist visas that kept getting renewed when we left the country, and it is nice to finally have a sense of permanency, though it still has to be renewed annually. When I finally had all of my paperwork in order, they told me they realized my current tourist visa didn't expire until April 3rd, and I could only apply if there was less than 30 days on my visa, so on March 5th it was finally approved. I also couldn't apply for the license until I had the resident permit, and I had to get it before my US one expired, on March a tight time frame, but luckily the HR woman Dan has been working with is great, and managed to help us get it all done.

On a positive note, things do get done here, eventually. Of course not without giving us a bit of stress first. Since I am also a procrastinator, I know there is nothing like the crunch of a deadline to get something finalized, and here it seems that is the philosophy the whole country runs on...I'm not sure whether to love it or hate it as a way to live. Is there a middle ground?

Sunday, March 9, 2008


After living here for 6 months we finally made it down to Lisbon for a weekend. The husband of one of Dan's colleagues works in Lisbon 3 days a week, so they offered us their apartment for the weekend, which was great to have. With just a quick weekend visit, we only had time for an overview, but hopefully this will be the first of several trips to the area. We started our morning Saturday in Belem, visiting tourist sites like the Torre de Belem and the Monastary of Jeronimos, walking around a shopping district, and of course eating Pastel de Belem, a yummy little pastry from the area. In the afternoon we explored the Castelo Sao Jorge, a large castle at the top of one of the city's tallest hills. It offers beautiful 360 degree views of the city and the Tagus river, with peacocks roaming the grounds and a large castle in the middle.

Saturday night we wandered around one of the restaurant districts. A lively area, full of outdoor cafes, pedestrian squares and walking areas, and considering it was the middle of February, lots of people. It was a warm enough night for us to sit outside and to people watch and to listen to the accordion player who stopped to play us a song for a couple of coins. It definitely gave the feel of the total European experience.

On a drizzly Sunday morning we drove up the coast to the seaside resort towns of Estoril and Cascais. Some grand old (and new) homes are found there, and in the summer months I imagine the traffic from Lisbon on the weekends is at a standstill. Along the way there was some beautiful coastal scenery, though with the rain we didn't capture it with the camera this time.

Our last stop on the way home was the walled city of Obidos. The ancient city walls and castle still surround the city, and it makes for a stunning view as you approach from a distance. We happened to arrive during their annual two week chocolate festival, so the town itself was packed with visitors, and everything was decked out for the occasion. We are looking forward to returning when the weather is a bit nicer and the crowds a bit thinner.
Once again, for the photo tour, click here.