Monthly Archives: September 2011

Caillat – My Little French Kitten

French Kitty

I leave for my vacation to France in less than 2 weeks – 12 days to be exact.  As I’m wrapping up everything for my 13 day excursion, one huge detail I was having some issue with was finding someone to look after my kitty cat, Caillat.

I’ve only been a pet owner for  few months, and when I booked my flights for my little get-away, I didn’t even think about what I would do with my 6 month old kitten.  She’s still in that baby stage where she really needs someone around at some point each day.

To top it off, lately I’ve been dreaming about my trip, and lo and behold, Caillat keeps showing up in my Paris dreams. I’m walking along the quai and all of a sudden I look over and she’s walking beside me – all prissy, like you’d imagine a little French Kitty. Or she arrive’s in the baggage claim area of Charles De Gaulle as I’m picking up my luggage. Obviously this issue has been on my mind!

Originally, my plan was to leave her with my friend Wendy – who also has a kitten. But then I started worrying that she wouldn’t do well at someone else’s house – that maybe she wouldn’t get along with the other kitty or that she’d be scared. I didn’t want her to feel insecure or get freaked out.

One evening I was talking about my trip and the pet care issue with a couple of girl friends. My friend Beth heard the concern I had about my kitten and volunteered to come stay at my home and watch Caillat while I’m away.  Thank you Beth!  This really gives me peace of mind.

Caillat Cat

I feel much better knowing that she will have someone around; someone to play with and keep her company. She’ll be in her own environment and hopefully this will make her feel safe and secure even though I won’t be there.

I plan to buy her some new kitten toys and special treats to help in the transition. But I’m very confident that she will be just fine in Beth’s capable care.

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Using my iPhone abroad…

Phone Home

Keeping in touch with the folks back home, and having access to a mobile phone while I’m traveling is important to me. So in preparation for my trip to France, I called AT&T to find out the international calling, texting and internet options for the iPhone.

Luckily enough, I was connected with a lovely woman who was just about the friendliest AT&T customer service representative that I have ever spoken with. Not only did she have all the answers, she set me up so that I would be able to use my own phone while I’m in France.

The AT&T World Traveler calling plan isn’t super-fantastic, but will help save me roaming charges and allow me to text, make calls and use the internet or check email from my iPhone.  The calling plan is only $5.95, but is pro-rated for just the time I am there, so it’ll only end up costing about $3.00. The text message plan is $10 per month and allows 50 text messages for that amount (that’s .20 per message) – after the first 50, texting go up to $ .40 per message ; receiving text messages won’t cost me anything. The data plan I chose is $25 for 20 MG. So the total cost for myData Global Plan will be about $40, plus calls at $.99 per min (usually $1.39).

I will let you know how this plan works for me, and the overall cost once I’m back from my travels. Hopefully there will not be any surprises!

If you have used AT&T World Traveler and have any tips for me, I’d greatly appreciate it.

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My experience with the Department of the State: Passport Services

US Passport

I’m taking a short trip to France next month, and with all the planning I’m doing, I’m getting very excited about the trip! I purchased my plane tickets, made arrangements for an apartment, and am getting organized for my 12 day trip to my favorite place on earth.

Then an alarm went off in my mind – I realized my passport had expired in May of this year. I quickly went on-line to the Department of State (http://travel.state.gov/) to find out what I needed to do to renew my passport – and quickly! 

On the website, I found that if I was leaving within 2 weeks I could make an appointment and go into the passport office and get everything taken care of that day. Unfortunately, I was leaving in 6 weeks. The turn around time stated on the website for renews was 6-8 week. UGH!  Then I noticed the option for expediting the process. For an additional $60, plus the overnight mail charges (both ways) I could get this taken care of within 2-4 weeks.  That would surely be enough time…right?

I completed the paperwork on-line and printed a nice clean copy. I went to Walgreen’s to have my passport photo taken. Then I took everything down to the post office to send off for overnight delivery.

A very helpful clerk at the post office the told me the exact amount I would need to make my check out for (to the the Passport Agency) to cover the return overnight service, plus the expedited fee and renewal fee. I wrote the check and placed it into the envelope with my expired passport, and the completed and signed application with my photo, and sealed it. The clerk placed “expedite” stickers on both sides of the envelope and sent it off into the great U.S.P.S. system.

I held my breath. Would my plans be thwarted due to my bad planning?

Well, these days you can go to the website and track the progress of the renewal. So a couple of days after I sent it – I did just that. I entered my name, social security number, and email address and a screen popped up telling me that they had received my Renewal Application, that it was marked “expedite” and that they were processing it now. The processing time would be 2-3 weeks, door to door. This was reassuring news! I put a note on my calendar to check back in at the end of next week.

Well, that was on Monday (September 12th) and today when I got into the office there was an email waiting in my in box stating that my passport was complete and had been mailed. Since I paid for the overnight delivery, I expected to receive it tomorrow, but lo and behold it was just delivered to my desk at 10:30 am today!

I started this process on September 7th – today is September 14th. One week ! I am amazed at the swiftness at which the US Government took care of this matter! Thank you – thank you!

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