I had my fathers remains interned at the Columbarium at Fort Sam Houston on Monday.My dad was a veteran of WWII, he was part of the Coastal Artillery Command at Fort Davis, NC, so he never saw any action overseas.  He was a good, kind and gentle soul who would never hurt anyone.
I want to thank The Department of Veterans Affairs, along with Fort Sam Houston Cemetery.  They supplied an honor gurad who performed a 21-gun salute, and a bugler to play taps before my dad was interned.  I really did not expect this, and I know dad would be very appeciative and honored by this small but respectful ceremony.
Elly cried so hard, she and my dad were "Bingo buddies".  She placed a bingo marker and a troll-doll in the columbarium with his remains.  I gotta be honest, the troll doll would freak me out!  Don't let her do that when I kick the bucket!
Elly also commented on how beautiful the cemetery was maintained, but was in awe of the vastness of it.  Even though I took her to Arlington National Cemetery back in the mid eighties.  I told her their were two US cemeteries in the Philippines, one in Manila, and another not far from our home in Bataan, at the old Clark AFB.  Unfortunately, the Cemetery at Clark was left off of the list of VA cemeteries overseas and is not being maintained by either the US or the Philippine goverments.  I believe the local Angeles City VFW and an American Firm based in Kuwait fund and maintain the cemetery until Congress and get their priorities straight and right a wrong. It took them almost 100 years to stop Concurrent Receipt, so I won't hold my breath!

With the help of my friend Ed and his wife Samantha, I got my deck and fence painted last weekend.  This was a bear of a job, but Ed's paint sprayer made quick work of it.
Unfortunately, Saturday would up being the hottest day of the year thus far, a whopping 96°s!
Drank lots of water and was really beat by the time we ran out of paint!
The hardest part was pulling back all of Elly's roses so Ed could spray the fence behind them.  Did I ever tell you how much I hate roses, especially their thorns!  I do have to admit, this being the first week of April, her roses are coming out in full bloom, and they are very colorful.
We went out to dinner with our neighbors on Thursday.  We had pizza & beer.  Doesn't get much better.  Then on Friday, me & Elly, Terra & Jason and PJ, his mom Gloria & Lorin all went to Saltgrass Steak house.  Yep, there goes my diet.  I ordered a couple of "Corona-ritas".  They are Margheritas in a fishbowl, with a bottle of Corona upside down inside the glass as well.  So as you drink your Margherita, it slowly turns into a cold beer.  Me-likey!!  I can't wait to develop my own San Mig-eritas in the Philippines.

When considering our move overseas, a big concern was our 4 yr old lab mix, Lea.  We got Lea from the Animal Defense League in San Antonio, a "no-kill" shelter for cats & dogs. She is a great dog, and my wife and I love her.  She's more than just our pet, she's part of our family and we wouldn't consider leaving her behind, although there are lots of concerns about taking her as well.
We want to take every precaution possible with bringing Lea to the Philippines, and also to ensure there are no hiccups going through customs when we arrive.

The Website for the Philippine Embassy explains in detail what steps are needed.  Unfortunately, it said to please refer to the local consulate which covers your state.  Well, Texas is covered by the Philippine consulate in Los Angeles (ya'll know where I'm going with this, right). What a bunch of stupid *%&^$&^()_(&%#&((= idiots!!!  I never spoke to more illiterate bunch of #**(&^%$#heads in my whole (*A^x#$*$^(^ life!!

I learned rule #1:  Ignore the LA Consulate.  My first step was to acquire my import permit from the Bureau of Agriculture in Manila.  I sent them an email with the required info and the next day, they emailed my permit.  Great, uh-oh, the permit expires 20 days before i arrive in Manila.  Back to square one.  So after two weeks of going back & forth, I finally got someone who could comprehend Engrish and stamped a one month extension on my permit.

My next step was to get a health certificate for Lea, this is where Lea gets pissed!  I scheduled an appointment with the USDA certified Veterinarian at Fort Sam Houston.  They were great, very helpful. Lea already had a microchip which was implanted by the Animal Defense League for free when we got her in 2009.  One problem, she is required an "International Microchip".

So the technician got out her 10 gauge needle and implanted a second chip in Lea's neck. Lessons learned, save the painful part for last, Lea fought us for every shot, test, injection, probing and even nail clipping for the last hour!  We both had to laugh at the way she kicked at us with all four feet when the technician came close to her with another needle.  She's fine now, but I don't feel that trusting relationship is where it was before yesterday’s events.  I will bring her back to Fort Sam on April 3rd and she will get her APHIS 7001 Health Certificate, which I then have to take to the USDA in Austin for them to sign, then I have to send everything to the Philippine Consulate for approval.  It was a "Dog Day Afternoon"
37 days to go!

Delta has me down as having 90,986 Sky miles in the last two years. I also have "AAdvantage Miles" with American Airlines, "Mileage Plus" with United, and "Rapid Rewards" with Southwest.  That's a lot of flying around, from San Jose, CA to Natick, MA, and from Cocoa Beach, FL to Tacoma, WA. and all stops in between.

"I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert's bare, man.
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've had my share, man.
I've been everywhere".

COME ON!  Sing it with me people!!

My last trip was to Natick, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.  The Soldier Systems Center there is where they design uniforms and parachutes, and test the food from the old C-rations, to the newer Meal, Ready to Eat, or "MRE's".

The weather was really nice for being in New England in March. Upper 50's mainly, but it did get colder towards the end of the trip.
The food up their was pretty good, This was my first time at Legal Seafood.  I heard lots about it, and the chow was great.  Had Sushi a couple of times as well.

Even though I pride myself on geography, being from Texas, I just assumed Connecticut was a lot further away that it really is.  I have a good close friend in Connecticut, Bill (Smokey) Stronk, and I had no idea he was just a hop-skip and a jump away from where I was staying in Natick.  Dammmmn!  lessons learned.  I gotta learn to check out a map before going on these roadtrips, oh, yea, read the title, too late!  You can drive for seven hours from San Antonio and still be in Texas, or Mexico, but whatever. We did work long hours, since our 3-man team was cut down to 2 at the last minute.  Dinner and a few beers at night, then to bed.  Gene, who was with me on the trip, is a Hockey fan, and would have liked to see the Bruins play, but they were on a road-trip.  I haven't seen a hockey game since I watched the Cleveland Crusaders play.

Both flights going and coming were on-time and no issues whatsoever. I hate to say it, but that's a first when flying Delta.  Especially through Atlanta.

It's pretty refreshing knowing you have completed your last business trip ever.  Flight to the Philippines is gonna be a long one, only 44 days away.

I DID NOT want to get up at 6:30 this morning to put up signs for our garage sale.  It was Saturday, my turn to stay in bed until late.  Very late.  But NOOOOOOOOOO, My Funny Little Honey made me get up and get started.
Before I could light up my first Backwoods, my first customer arived.  ¿Tiene las herramientas eléctricas?  Huh?, oh, si! I wound up selling about $50 in tools. Not bad for 7:15 in the morning. Wound up making about $2,000, mainly from a $900 dining room set and a $300 curio cabinet.

I am glad it's over with. Sitting in a lawn chair and saying "fifteen dalla" all day sure is tireing.

The house looks pretty empty now, but I still have more packing to do and more items to sell on Craigslist.
I spoke with my old friend Bill morning, he and his wife Ruby are also moving to the Philippines.  They'll  be there in April.  Elly's nephews Ricky and Lito will pick them up at the airport in Manila and take them to their home in Olongapo.

I don't know if I'm packing everything I can think of just because my wife is doing the same, or because I believe deep down inside that I may really need this stuff when I get to the Philippines.

I'm down to 60 days and counting until We take our one way flight to the Philippines, along with Lea, the wonder dog, who BTW turned four last week!
I'm mostly concerned with Lea and the 27 hr trip.  I spoke to Delta Airlines again today and they promised me that as long as Lea is healthy, she will be alright.  Just pack food & water for her.

Tomorrow, we'll be holding a gargae sale, hopefully that will clear our 36 years of crud, I mean collectables.

I have been getting recommendations and asurances from expats living in the Philippines through emails and other blogs.

I'm going to be so happy that I won't be working full-time anymore, I need to relax, enjoy life and take care of my health. P90X, "BRRING IT"!
I hear San Miguel is great for medicinal purposes, among other things. Just sayin...

Thirtysix years of "stuff", really adds up.  Especially when you need to get rid of almost everything you own.  At first I thought about shipping most of our household goods, especailly since there would be no tarriff or tax upon arival in the Philippines.  But a 20-foot container would only hold our living room set, grandfather clock and a few boxes.  The cheapest shipper wanted $6,800.  I can buy some pretty nice furniture in Manila for that kind of money.
After sorting  out what we going to ship in Balikbayan Boxes and what we are going to sell on "Craigslist", the boxing began.  But first, "Craigslist". 
Craigslist is actually pretty awesome, I started getting emails within 30 minutes of placing our spare bedroom set online.  We also sold a crytstal chandelier, all of our Christmas stuff, all in all about $850 in one day.  Elly also sold her grandfather clock, a 55" TV, an Entertainment Center, a dining room set, etc, etc, etc.  We figured out that with her car and my truck sold, we will be making out pretty good.
We also signed a two-year lease for our home in Texas.  A great couple, Jason and Terra Wood and their little girl Cammeron. I feel very confident they will take great cdare of our home.
Now the Balikbayan boxes. A balikbayan box (literally, "Repatriate box") is an ubiquitous, corrugated box containing any number of small items sent by an overseas Filipino known as a "balikbayan".  Though often shipped by freight forwarders specializing in balikbayan boxes  by sea.
A 5.5 cubic foot box costs us $105, and takes about 45 days to arive door-to-door at our home in Dinalupihan, Bataan.  Elly had three boxes packed and ready to go before I knew what was in them!.  I want to packup my handtools and some building supplies like electrical wire, which may come in handy as I re-wire our house.  I hesitate to bring my power tools, since the voltage in the Philippines is 220 VAC.  Yes I could use a step-down transformer, but I can re-purchase those items in Manila with the money I earn from selling them here. I gave up trying to crate my 76" longhorns, put them on craigslist. (sigh).

Elly, my funny little honey and I spoke about retiring in the Philippines for quite some time now.  We visited her family in Dinalupihan, Bataan back in December 2009 and spent Christmas there.  We both had such a wonderful time we went and purchased a house and lot in Pita, Dinalupihan on Bataan Paninsula, only 20 minutes from where my wifes family lives.
We actually found a beautiful 4 bedroom home on a large lot with papaya trees, coconut trees, and even a calamansi  (small lime) tree.  Since we were not reasdy to make the move, we worked out a deal with my wifes nephew Lito, his wife Babae, and their three angels, Angelou, Angelina, and Angelica, or as I call them, Isa, Dalawa, and Tatlo! (that's 1, 2, and 3).  Lito and his family have been taking care of the place and my wife and I have spend 3 weeks there each year, but all that ends on May 2, 2012, when we will move in to our home in Bataan.

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