Thursday, November 12, 2009

Travel Plans

Hi Everyone!

We finally have our finalized holiday travel plans. We're flying into Chicago on the evening of December 17th. We'll be hanging out in the city until December 21st when we're going to take the train to Michigan. Then the Gottwoods will be in East Lansing until December 28th. We'd love to see folks so, if you're going to be in either Chicago or EL when we are, drop us an email so we can coordinate.


We actually have some friends out here in California! Geoff and Kristen, friends of Jeremy's from graduate school, live out in Palo Alto. They also just had a super-cute baby boy named Kestrel. The whole family stopped by to see us a couple of weekends ago and we all went out to Point Lobos State Park for a hike and picnic.

We stopped on the way to the park at the Cheese Shop in Carmel - there will most likely be a whole blog section devoted to the Cheese Shop as it is one of our favorite places out here. They have a great selection of amazing cheeses and they also give out unlimited samples. Then we had a great cheese picnic by the ocean.

After lunch we hiked all over the park. Here is a picture of the five of us taking a break to enjoy the scenery.

We really enjoyed hanging out with Kristen, Geoff and Kestrel. We explained the Kestrel had some pretty big shoes to fill since we really miss our friends' kids from Chicago, but we decided to cut him a break since he was only three weeks old.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Tax Man Commeth

Around here we have to pay a lot of taxes. A certain kitty comes around to collect any time he hears a package crinkle or smells something yummy. One of his favorites is frosting (we often let him lick the beaters when we are done making frosting). Here the kitty demands his offering:

And then he collects his due:

Santa Cruz Day Trip

This Saturday I had to go up to UC Santa Cruz to be a panelist for a discussion on how to get into grad school. Since we hadn't been up there before, Jeremy decided to come with me and we made a day out of it. After the panel, we explored the Santa Cruz boardwalk a little. It was touristy, but a different kind of touristy than downtown Monterey. We definitely felt like Santa Cruz was more our speed. Here is a shot of Jeremy on the pier:

There were also a lot of sea lions on the pier. We still can't get used to the idea that we live somewhere where we can see seals and sea lions on a regular basis. There was a super-cute one that seemed to be posing for the gawkers:

And what is cuter than one sea lion? What about a whole pile of sea lions including a BABY SEA LION! It could only be cuter if there were a few otters thrown in:

After the pier, we walked through downtown Santa Cruz which we both really liked. It reminded me a lot of downtown Ann Arbor: cute shops, independent coffee joints on every corner, hippies playing drums in front of the independent coffee shops ... anyway, we could definitely see ourselves moving to Santa Cruz if we can figure out the commutes.

We topped off the evening by going out for a nice dinner. We found the restaurant online and as soon as we walked in, both Jeremy and I realized that we were definitely not hip enough to eat there. Once we got past that though we actually really enjoyed the food. By the time dessert rolled around the hipsters had filled the place up and they were a little loud for us so we headed for home. Kids these days!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Trees: 2, Kate: 0

Many of you have probably heard the story from when we were little and John convinced me to play Marco Polo in the backyard instead of a pool. Basically it involved me running around the backyard with my eyes closed while yelling "Marco". John would yell "Polo" back and I was supposed to catch him. Being the MEANEST little brother ever, John intentionally ran me head-first into a tree. Anyway, the trees won that one, and they took another swipe at me a couple of weeks ago.

My car was parked in the lot by my building during a storm. It wasn't a bad storm by Midwesterner standards, but people here were freaking out. It was some rain and wind, but Jeremy and I didn't think too much of it. Anyway, it was dark when I left work and I was tired, so I came out of my building, got into my car and started to pull out of my parking spot. Just as I was turning to look over my shoulder, I noticed a piece of paper stuck to my windshield. Thinking it was a ticket, I got out of my car in a huff noting that my permit was CLEARLY visible through the windshield.

It turned out that the slip of paper was actually a business card from one of the campus police along with a note saying "A tree hit your car. I filed a report, it is number XXX. Please contact me if you have any questions or need any help". Hmmm. I looked up from the note and noticed that, yes, indeed my car had been smashed by a tree. Here is an overview of the damage to the poor little Vibe:

Passenger mirror detached from car

Big dent in the front panel - there were also giant dents in the roof and hood of the car - the tree clearly meant business.

Windshield smashed. It was actually worse than this picture makes it look. Yes, I looked through this and noticed (a) a piece of paper and (b) my permit, but never noticed THE GIANT SMASHED IN PART.

Side view again.

Anyway, apart from the sadness I felt for the Vibe and the near marital homicide when Jeremy asked "why did you park under a tree in a storm?" things went pretty well with getting the Vibe restored to its old self.

First of all, the campus cops were great! They filled out the report and cleaned the tree off of my car before I even knew anything happened. They were very nice about the whole thing.

Progressive insurance and the mechanic they sent us to were also amazing, but I will let Jeremy tell that part since he dealt with the insurance folks. I just wanted to share my photos of the destruction.

The Vibe is currently back home and actually looks great! The passenger side looks like new, and the shop also detailed the inside of the car which is definitely the cleanest it has been since I got it.  So all-in-all things turned out as well as we could have hoped.  Now I just have to figure out why the trees have it in for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When it rains ...

So, in case you can't tell from the picture, Danger's left eye is a little "lazy". For the past couple fo days he's been blinking a lot and his left eye has been producing a large amount of goop. Being the best kitty parents on the planet, Jeremy and I applied our patented "let's wait and see if it gets better" approach to kitty health. It actually did look like it was getting a little better until tonight. Guess who is going to the vet tomorrow? At this point we're considering just having our paychecks direct deposited directly into the vet's account. We are hoping that she at least buys a nice boat or something with all of our cash - then maybe she'll invite her best clients out sailing.

The Kitty Drama Continues

Just as it looked like Lucy was finally on the mend, she's had a bit of a relapse. According to the vet, her urinary tract infection is all cleared up, but her kitty-pee is a little sub-par. And, at the Gottwoods, we always strive to "pee the best", so clearly this is unacceptable. The problem is that her pee is too basic (as in the opposite of acidic) which means that it is easy for crystals to form which makes it easier to get another infection and so on and so forth. Luckily, this is a problem that is easily fixed:

That, my friends, is special pee-balancing prescription kitty food. Available only from the vet. Of course, if we feed it to one cat, there's no way to get around feeding it to all three. Luckily, Danger finds it quite delectable (he is a picky eater - he usually whines until Jeremy licks the sauce off his chicken for him). We are happy to have such an easy fix, and are really glad that there isn't anything more serious wrong with Lucy. However, let me just repeat: this is prescription cat food - available only from the vet. It is a tad more expensive than the cut-rate Friskies that is a more typical kitty dinner option around here. Dear Future Children, you want to know why you have no college fund?!?! GO ASK THE CAT.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy New Year!

Shana Tova to all of our Jewish friends and family! Happy 5770!

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year celebration begins tonight at sundown. The Gottwoods will not be celebrating this year because the one of us that is actually Jewish was completely unaware of his upcoming High Holiday until he flipped through the complementary calendar he received for being on the waiting list for Bears season tickets.

However, preparations are already well underway for the annual observance of National Cookie Month in October. I, for one, was completely unaware of the deep religious significance of National Cookie Month until I was informed by my husband. I have been informed that the fate of our souls is dependent on the quantity and variety of cookies consumed in the month of October. I clearly have much to learn about Jeremy's faith.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Things have been a little quiet here - on the blog that is - our house has been filled with the sounds of coughing, sneezing and nose-blowing. The first cold of the season managed to hit both of us, I got sick right before Labor Day weekend (right before vacation of course) and Jeremy started to feel under the weather the following Wednesday. We're both on the mend now, but it has been a rough week or two. Especially given how Jeremy caught by cold.

Two weeks ago, we were at a conference in Southern California. While I was getting ready one morning, in the dark, trying not to wake up my sleeping husband, I may have accidentally used Jeremy's toothbrush. Actually, we got new toothbrushes, and I got confused about which one was mine and may have accidentally used Jeremy's toothbrush for two days. Jeremy pointed out my mistake (he was horrified) and then the next day I woke up with a scratchy throat.

You might be surprised how many times one person can work the phrase "YOU USED MY TOOTHBRUSH" into a conversation ...

[Jeremy just came in to the room and said "are you blogging? did you tell them HOW YOU USED MY TOOTHBRUSH???]

Anyway, after a week and a half of soup, popcicles and kleenex I think we're both starting to feel a little better.

Unfortunately, Lucy has also been sick. She kept jumping up on the bed next to us and peeing - which, as you can imagine was less than ideal (thank goodness for the sanitize cycle on the washer). We thought she just having some sort of adjustment-to-the-new-house issue, but then she starting hiding under the bed and refusing to come out for anything. After two visits to the vet, blood work, and several more "incidents" we finally found out that she has a kitty urinary tract infection (probably). The vet gave her a big shot of antibiotics on Wednesday, and said that in a week she should be back to her old self.

While she recovers, we're keeping Lucy in "kitty jail" which is really just the spare bedroom made up with a litter box, kitty bed, and food and water. We go in there periodically to hang out with her and sometimes one of us sleeps in there on the aerobed to keep her company. It has been a few days since her dose of antibiotics and she's already starting to show some improvement, so we're optimistic that the shot will do the trick. Instead of just cowering in the closet, she is starting to show some opposition to being cooped up in kitty jail. She's also eating more and has used the litter box. It has been a really trying experience (there is nothing quite like getting peed on in the middle of the night while you are hopped up on Nyquil), and Jeremy and I both feel bad for not figuring out what was wrong sooner. Mostly we just really hope that our kitty is back to normal soon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Road Trip, Day 3: Rocky Mountain National Park

I spent Wednesday in Boulder where the Bourlands and I trekked up to Rocky Mountain National Park.

On the original drive to California, there wasn't much in the way of what one expects with mountains. Wyoming and Utah were pretty, but it was largely a high plateau.

RMNP was mountains! We drove up this one-way, narrow gravel road that is only open about 3-4 months a year. My mother said that she and my dad visited the park one June or July and this particular road was closed.

As harrowing as it was, it was definitely worth the trek.

Here is Matthew and Leona in the back of the car. She seems pretty excited by all the scenery. She was much more excited by the cheddar goldfish that were in the car with me.

This gives you a pretty good sense of the drop-off from the road we were on. Jessica was kindly taking pictures out the window and sun roof.

The road takes you up to the Alpine station in the park. This is the view from a little higher up the hill than the station. That little brown strip on the bottom right is the road.

From the station you can hike up a "small" hill to get to 12,000 feet. We had to stop twice for breaks because I was sucking wind in the altitude. Matthew and I had figured out that we hadn't seen each other in about 7 years. He looks exactly the same. I've put on about 20 pounds since then. I need to hit the gym more in California.

The view over the other side of the hill was worth it, though.

If anything, the ride back down on the paved road was even more harrowing, but just as scenic.

The road back home.

Dinner with Leona. She ate my bread.

Road Trip, Day 2

Day 2: St. Louis, MO to Boulder, CO (861 miles)

This was the longest day in the car, so there aren't as many pictures. I left the Peils' house on Tuesday morning and drove all the way to the Bourlands' house in Boulder.

Missouri is an okay state to drive through. Eastern Kansas was actually somewhat pretty. Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado were about as flat as everyone thinks they are. I did pass Fort Riley, home of the Big Red One, and at one of the places I stopped to get gas, there was a "Mexican" place called "Carlos O'Kelly's". Draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jeremy's Road Trip, day 1.

One of the things that Kate and I learned during the process of planning and executing our move is that it is a royal pain in the neck to ship a car. Basically, it can't be done on any sort of schedule. This made it impossible to ship my car out here before or during our move. Once we had resolved to leave it behind and arrange shipping later, Kate suggested that, so long as we were going to be spending several hundred dollars to move the car, anyway, one of might as well get some fun out of the deal. So I flew back to Chicago and drove the car back out here, making numerous stops along the way.

Have I mentioned that I have the best wife in the world?

I flew to Chicago on Aug. 14 and played at the 21st Annual Cooler Classic Ultimate tournament in Milwauke on the 15th and 16th. I stayed with Ernie in Chicago the night of the 16th, and on the 17th, I commenced my journey. The trip was a blast. Over the next few days, I'll be posting pictures and descriptions of my trip, and all the stops I made along the way.

DAY 1: Chicago to St. Louis (300 miles)
I was going to post Google Map pictures of my entire route, but then it occurred to me that some folks might not want Google maps of their homes posted on a public blog. So you'll have to be content without for most legs.

Day 1 saw me drive from Ernie's place to the Peil's house in St. Louis, with a stop at Illinois State University to meet with a collaborator of mine, and in Springfield to have lunch with a friend.

Archie is always horribly neglected at the Peil's, now that they have a child, so I made sure to get a picture of him first.

Lucy objected, however, and wanted to be sure I got a picture of her.
"Look at me! I do more tricks than the dog!"

Which just made Archie sad. Poor Archie.

Our first visitors

A couple weeks ago, we had our first visitors. Ned & Colleen and some of their friends stopped by during a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Here they are on one of the observation decks of the Monterey Aquarium, with the Bay in the background. It's still strange to have "visitors" here, but we're looking forward to having many more!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Tomorrow (August 17) is my mom's birthday. So, if you see her around, don't forget to wish her a happy birthday.

We're not in Kansas anymore ...

Normally Monterey county has some of the best air quality in the nation (you can take or leave this piece of knowledge - our source is the waiter at our favorite local deli - but it sounds good). This week has been a little different. There is a big forest fire burning in the Santa Cruz mountains. Even though Santa Cruz is kind of far away, it has had a big impact on the air here. It has been hazier than normal and there is a bit of a reddish tint to the haze. When the wind blows, you definitely get a nose full of "campfire smell". Apparently the fire has also been messing with the fancy car show in Carmel - ash keeps falling on their nicely waxed cars.

Luckily, the fire is almost 50% contained and is supposed to be fully contained by later on this week. Also, the weather is supposed to shift and that should help the air clear up over here.

It is just one more difference between the Midwest and the central coast of California. We won't get many tornadoes or big storms, but now we'll have the occasional big fire or earthquake to deal with.

Blog Questions

We've gotten a couple of questions about the blog and blogging in general. We're pretty new to blogging ourselves, but we'll do what we can to answer the questions.

1. We are using blogger which is Google's free blog service (thank you Kym for the recommendation!). If you have specific questions about how blogger works, you should check out the help section at (that's what we do!)

2. You don't have to log in to read anything - if you did you wouldn't be able to see this :) You also don't have to officially "follow" the blog to read anything. If you have questions about following - see #1 :)

3. You also don't have to log in to comment (we enabled anonymous comments). What are comments? At the end of a post you can click on where it says "# comments" - you can read what other people have written or leave your own comment.

4. Both of us will be posting (Jeremy and Kate). To see who authored each post, you can look at the bottom of the post and it will tell you.

I think that answers all of the questions we have gotten so far. If we missed anything, let us know and we'll try to track down an answer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sunday on the peninsula

Last Sunday, Kate and I went on 17-mile drive. This is the scenic loop around the southern half of the peninsula. Specifically, it goes around Pebble Beach and all the famous golf courses there (though not Pebble Beach itself). According to Kate, this is her standing on "Pebble Beach."

This is a better picture of Kate with the churning Pacific in the background. We're still not used to the idea that we live here.

Kate got a pretty good shot of the surf crashing on the rocks behind me. It was way behind me, so I didn't get wet, though I'm sure several of you were hoping for that.

If you look just to the left of center in this picture, you can see a lonely sea lion, lounging on the rocks. We live near sea lions and otters and seals. Still very weird.

This was a pretty good view south along the coast toward Big Sur. We're looking forward to getting down that direction.

Soccer night in America

Last Saturday I met up with my friends Sheau and Kristen, who I hadn't seen in about seven years, to go to a double header of soccer games. The first game was an MLS game - San Jose Earthquakes against Columbus Crew. The second game was an exhibition between FC Barcelona and Chivas de Guadelajara.

I understand what MLS is trying to do, but really all the double header did was drive home exactly how wide a disparity there is between the best international times and the MLS teams. The second game was so much crisper, and so much more entertaining, than the MLS game that it was kind of funny after a while.

The Chivas fans were pretty wild. Sheau had to ditch his backpack in the bushes because they wouldn't let it in the stadium. They let these guys bring in fireworks, though.

My father went to Barcelona last spring and got this wonderful FC Barca jersey. It's not really captured in this light, but the jersey is bright orange. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to wear it, though.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kate's new campus

This is Kate in front of her new office building. There is some sort of building code requiring all California buildings to have the Spanish mission roof. Even the gas stations have it.

This is looking up the main quad from Kate's building. Parks, colleges, and golf courses all get green grass. The rest of us get sand. Actually, the frisbee golf courses on campus are also all sand. There is a lot of sand. We live near the ocean. We're still adjusting to this, too.

The new house and neighborhood

The weather the first week was pretty foggy. This week has been perfect, though. Bright sunshine and 70 degrees. So we finally got some good pictures of the neighborhood.
This is the front of our house. The car still has IL plates. The cat's jungle gym is in the living room window, of course. We frequently are greeted by Danger looking down on us from the upstairs bedroom window. I believe he thinks he rules all that he can see, so the higher up he is, the happier he is.

This is the view east from the park at the end of our court. I imagine it will get bland eventually. When I'm, you know, 75 or so.

This is north. We live on a hill. Those are mountains. This is all very strange to us with our flatland, Midwestern background.

A wonderful California Evening

Today was beautiful: sunny, clear skies and mid-70s. To enjoy the nice weather we headed into downtown Monterey to the (year-round!) farmers market. It was really more a mix of farmers market and street fair, but lots of fun. We got fresh-from-the-tap root beers and wandered around buying lots of delicious produce. Days like this definitely make us feel like we could get used to living here :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 3: Reno to our new home

We don't have any pictures of our new home, yet. This was taken in the Sierra Nevadas. As you can see, we encountered a couple insects on our journey.

Final tally: 2,250 miles (give or take), 32 1/2 hours in the car. Three pissed off cats.

The movers are delivering our stuff tomorrow morning. After that, we'll take pictures of the house and the neighborhood to post here. We already miss all of you. Come visit. We have an extra bedroom (though not an extra bed, yet).


A mountain in Nevada in the middle of an otherwise empty plain. We thought it was cool.

Day 2: Laramie to Reno

This was a huge wind farm we saw in western Wyoming. We thought it was neat. Far more interesting than anything in Illinois, Iowa, or Nebraska, that's for sure.

Wyoming in general was very interesting. Certainly we're not used to space that is that wide open, and where you can see all of it because of your elevation.

Utah was also very pretty. We were pretty impressed with just the variations in topography and the starkness of the surroundings and terrain. Definitely a big difference from both the city and the deciduous-heavy Midwest.

My brother demanded a picture of the Bonneville salt flats. If you can't read the plaque (which was erected by Goodyear), the Measured Mile is about 7 miles straight ahead.

Because I'm such a good brother, I got him two pictures.

Day 1 was through Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. We stopped for the night in Laramie, Wyoming. This picture was of a bright orange sunset over western Nebraska. It was the only picture all day worth taking. Seriously. I mean, my god, people. At least put a giant corn statue or something along the side of road to break up the monotony.

We did about 1,050 miles in 15 1/2 hours. We stopped only when necessary.

Cats in the car

I do not like it in the car.
I do not like it going far.

I do not like to share my space.
I do not like you in my face.

This Dr. Seuss inspired poetry is brought to you by the cats.

Actually, the drive went surprisingly smoothly. Given how much they whine about a ten minute trip to the vet, there was surprisingly little complaining on this trip. We're not sure if it was the fact that we got them a big dog crate and filled it with their stuff, or the tranquilizers the vet gave us, but we were pretty thankful either way.

They seemed to adjust to life in hotels pretty quickly, too. The first night they all spazzed out, but the second night they managed to find Animal Planet on TV and clear out the mini-bar.

Packing - before and after.

It is amazing how much less empty your place feels when all your crap is stacked in the dining room.

But after the movers take it all away, you can't help but wander around and think, "Where the heck is all my stuff!"