Sunday, December 29, 2013

Departure, arrival

As we drove to the airport on Boxing day, the sun was out, glinting off the snow and into the backs of our eyeballs. Jonathan said he was getting a headache.  We, of course, expressed sympathy. It wasn't until about four hours later, on the bumpy, noisy plane taking us to California that the headache became nausea, and then he was sick.  Meaning he threw up into his airsick bag.  Gross. 

Another two hours later, out of security, past the multiple lanes of cars parked in the pick-up area of the LA airport, and then back through security again, well past dinner, Jonathan picked at his quesadilla, then gave up and ate a few fries.  We were off to an auspicious start.

But things got better.  There was no motion sickness on the large plane flying in a straight line over the ocean all day.  We all slept for about six of the sixteen hours.  We left snow and cold on the 26th, and arrived to wind shaking out the green tops of the eucalyptus trees on the 28th.  Green grass.  Blue sky.  Shorts and t-shirts and Merry Christmas d├ęcor still all over town. 

We were too early to check into our hotel, so we dropped off all nine of our bags (nine!) and ate an exotic meal of fried chicken at the chain restaurant two doors down.  After checking in, we walked a few blocks to buy a phone that would work on this side of the world.  We realized just after arrival at the phone store that we needed passports to actually purchase the phone, and the passports were back in the hotel.  So then we walked the few blocks back to the hotel.  And back to the phone shop again.  Then back to the hotel again.  We do own a phone now.  And sore feet.

And that was really the end.  It was early evening at that point.  We succumbed to jet-laggery and stayed inside, went to bed at 8pm. 

This morning we made our way to church, in a neighborhood we are contemplating living in.  The people were friendly.  The neighborhood seemed pleasant.  The commute was actually only 40 minutes, one tram, not 60.  A 40 minute commute is not unreasonable.  Is it?

Tomorrow we hope to inspect several apartments, and submit an application to live ... somewhere.  We are all dreading the day.  But Tuesday and Wednesday, agencies are shut down for New Year's Eve.  So we will relax and be tourists then.  Hopefully we will be tourists with an idea of where we can live for the next six months.  Insert frowny face.

For today, jet-laggery may be winning out again ... at 9pm.  If I can make it to 10pm tomorrow, then Tuesday I just have to endure two more hours to meet the New Year at midnight -- 18 hours before most of my friends. 

Anyway, I will close this post with those two important goals:  first, find a way to avoid sleeping on the streets after our hotel stay is up, and second, overcome jet lag enough to meet midnight on December 31. 

The end.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On packing

It really isn't hard to pack for a six month trip.  You pack one week of summer clothes, and one week of winter clothes.  Add toothbrush and other toiletries, a few electronics, and you're done.  The end.

The tricky part comes when you realize that one week of clothes fills a whole suitcase, and there are three of you, and you were hoping to check most of the luggage, but the airline permits just one checked bag each. 

Then you start thinking that maybe you don't need a whole week of summer clothes.  If you bring a long-sleeved button-up shirt, you can roll up the sleeves to 3/4 length and wear that in the summer.  Roll them down for winter.

So you take out two short sleeved shirts.  And then you look at the pile of luggage, unchanged except for the removal of two short sleeved shirts, and you realize that those two shirts really don't make a difference.  So you put one back and keep the other. 

And then Tim suggests taking another bag anyway.  Because you technically can add another carry on, even if you count the giant stuffed bunny as a carry on.  Or is the backpack the carry on and the stuffed bunny the personal item?  It is immaterial.  One person can drag another suitcase through LAX.  So why not?

Then you remind Tim that there is always more stuff coming back.  If you have already maxed out your luggage, how will you possibly deal with the stuff you've acquired when you pack to come home?  And then you answer your own question. 

I know.  I'll just leave a couple of shirts there in six months.

Because you have already ascertained that two short sleeved shirts make such a vast amount of difference in packing space. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Sometimes, I have misplaced priorities.  I inherited that from my mother.

This morning, for example, I spent a couple of hours making applesauce.  The apples were picked in October, and they have been awaiting their fate in the garage, and in the lower right bin in the refrigerator.  I needed to clean the fridge anyway.  And it was my last chance to make applesauce and date the jars 2013.  Our next chance for applesauce will be 2014.  So I made applesauce.

As I made applesauce, I watched the snow fall out the window, and wondered if we should drive 50 miles through the snow to a family party, or not.

And then, while waiting for the apples to soften, I cleaned the fridge, one shelf at a time, sorting through condiments and throwing away the last of the pomegranate seeds from thanksgiving.

Stacked on my dresser are two suitcases worth of summer clothes, for next week, when we will be far away from applesauce, snow, and family.  A large bucket of water is warming in the living room.  Tomorrow, we will put Mr Fish in there, while we disassemble his tank, reassemble it at my aunt's house down the street, and then move him to his new home.  Tim keeps checking items off our packing list, even as I write.  We need to make sure we take appropriate devices, cables, headsets, chargers, plug adapters.  Do we pack sandals, or buy them there?  Sunscreen.  How many winter clothes do I need to make it through Christmas?  And still we have no home lined up.

So I made applesauce.  We gave up on the snow ever stopping, and decided not to brave the drive to the family party.  When the applesauce was finished, quart jars cooling on a rack, I mopped the floor.  Tim folded laundry.  We played video games -- the ones we can't take with us.

Yesterday we said goodbye to friends we won't see until 6th grade.  Tomorrow we will pack in earnest.

 Today, I made applesauce.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


In fifth grade here in P city, the kids get to pick an instrument and join band, or orchestra.  Jonathan's first choice was flute.  Enough kids were interested in flute this year that the teacher had to ship most of them off to clarinet.  Somehow, Jonathan still ended up playing the flute.  

Last night, he had his first fifth grade band performance.  He can play "Jingle Bells" like a pro.  Well, maybe not like a pro.  But he looks good.

And let me just conclude by saying that there is very little in this world more culturally uplifting than the band concert put on by a group of kids who have all been playing their instruments for about three months.  

Except maybe the orchestra concert that happened a half hour later.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Goodbye, old friend

We sold our car today.

We actually wanted to sell it next week.  But we had the great idea of posting it for sale early and asking for more than we thought we would get.  Turns out the car was sold in three minutes.

This car we owned for nearly 10 years.  Two states and two countries (though we didn't actually take it to the second country).

Rear facing infant seat.  Front facing infant seat.  Toddler seat.  Booster seat.  It's the only car Jonathan has known.

Two tickets.  Speeding (Tim), and running a red light (Tim).

Heat waves (Texas).  Hail damage (Texas).  Snow tires (Utah).  Bison traffic jams (Wyoming).

It was a good car, and reliable.  Now a good, reliable car for someone else.

But it kind of feels like we lost an old friend.