I'm sure you're still on the edge of your seat from our last riveting entry, so I'll just jump right in and continue with our daily routine following breakfast.
Things tend to go three different ways at this point: if I am walking to work, I am out the door by 8 or so for a quick walk across Miramar. The little shopping area around the corner from our house is usually populated with commuters waiting for a bus into town, but I keep going with the college kids (here they call high school 'college', and what follows is 'university') towards the airport before heading north for work.
Otherwise, if I am getting a ride or taking the car myself, I have an extra few minutes to play before we leave: it's literally only a 4-minute drive, and usually we take the back way through the neighborhoods rather than by the airport roundabout. Josie is still just as determined to get into her car-seat by herself as she was before we left, and just as easily distracted by anything.
Another installment in our 'What's Different: New Zealand' category (can you tell we're both homesick?)
All the indications of early winter are here: the sun rises around 7:30, and it's dark by 5:15. The wind whips our house at night, and I can hear rain sheeting against the windows. In a few places some of the trees have even lost their leaves. Other than the lack of snow and ice (phew!) and the fact that I'm not mentally ready to endure another winter (back me up here, Binghamton peeps!), I've had a hard time putting my finger on what else might be missing.
On my drive home tonight it occurred to me: we're missing the holidays! They make the top half of winter in Binghamton downright magical, stretching from Halloween through Thanksgiving, into Christmas and ending with New Year's (after which Binghamton's magic fades a bit until sometime in late April or early May, when it comes back with a big ray of sunshine.)
And by that time I really desperately need Spring and Summer to compensate for the long, dreary march from January to May (have a listen to Patty Griffin's Burgundy Shoes if you can't relate). Leaving Binghamton as we did in mid-April, watching it snow as our plane took off and knowing we were headed back into winter I was feeling unresolved somehow, like I had just run a marathon but couldn't find the finish line.
We're hungry for the tastes of summer too, like corn on the cob, salt potatoes and spiedies (thanks again to Grandma for our goodbye meal!) Instead we're dusting off our root vegetables and stew recipes, which of course are delicious and fit with the rainy weather but it's not what we're craving.
Don't get me wrong: it's more like a long, drawn-out spring compared to a Northeast winter, and I laugh sometimes to myself when I hear people complain about it. "It's just rain and wind! And it's only in the 50s! And when it's not raining, it's in the 60s!" Still, I could use a break from my wool socks for a sundae at Wolfie's and sitting outside in the evening while the sun's still up.
It's this time of night that I find myself searching for something familiar to calm me before going to sleep. Even when I've been on fabulous vacations in the past, I long for "home" before the end of the trip. I realize we are no where near the end of our stay but I ache for familiar things at night.
I used to use my Tivo to wind down in the evening at home. I've tried watching TV here at night and realized quickly that I am not going to get the same effect. Everything is still too new. The shows are different, the words are different, the commercials are different. I can't turn on autopilot even when I'm trying because everything catches my attention.
I tried something new tonight though, Google Maps. I looked up our house in Endicott. The photo was updated in 2007 so we owned it then. I can't see either of our cars in the picture and was really hoping to see the kids pool or picnic table out on the back deck but even without those things, it felt familiar. Then I looked up my in-laws house up the road, then my sister in-laws house in New Jersey, then my Grandma in Idaho, then my Grandparents in Nevada. It seemed to give me my fix. All very familiar places with trees and cars and backyards that I know by heart. It was almost like I was visiting each house. I could imagine walking in the doors, the faces I'd see there, the dogs I'd pet, the food we would eat. The familiarity of not only the surroundings, but the relationships under those roofs.
Everything here is new. New places and new friends, both good things but to put me at ease, I need what I know. So tonight I'll imagine turning the tv off, walking through the kitchen, starting the dishwasher, turning the lights out, walking down the hall, opening the girls' bedroom doors, petting Eulie Dog and crawling into bed even though that routine is 8000 miles away.
Well we've been here a little over a month now and are starting to feel somewhat settled in. We've got the house sorted for the year, our car and we've started finding some activities for the girls to enjoy. I feel like we are starting to take advantage of all the wonderful things this town has to offer it's children.
The most frequent outing we have is to the many various playgrounds around town. The girls love the slides and see saws. Sophie almost always makes a new friend and asks them if they would like to play chase. She seems to have more endurance for the game than others though as toward the end of our play time she's shouting out the new friends name and waving them on.
We've attended storytime at one of the local libraries. The girls very much enjoyed hearing the hours worth of free stories and songs. Several of the words are different and Sophie usually picks up on it.
"What's a ladybird?"
to which I answer
"In New Zealand they call ladybugs ladybirds."
She's always satisfied with this answer and often tries it out on me.
"Can I play on the hodgie?"
"What's a hodgie?"
"Mom, in New Zealand they call trampolines hodgies."
She's also started picking up a hint of an accent. Not throughout her entire vocabulary but there are certain words that she's traded. Water is now wahtah, tomato is tomahto, car is caah, shoe is something close to shor, to me it sounds like she is chewing on the end of the word. It's pretty cute!
So, while our cat Eliot is staying with our extended family up in Ithaca (thanks Kim and Kev!) we have been a little heartbroken here without our animals. Our little gray lovie has been missed and it's almost like (although I don't really know) those ghost feelings you have when an arm has been amputated. I think he is here when I get home or when I sit down on the couch I am expecting him to jump on my lap. Apparently there is some sort of feline network, I like to think of it like a long game of telephone, which our cat has used to send some kitty love our way. Our new house comes complete with a neighborhood cat, Fooky (actually, it's Spooky but Josie calls him/her Fooky). Fooky showed up while we were signing our lease. He/she (this is going to get tedious, let's just assume Spooky is a boy because that is what Eliot would want) ran right up to Sophie and rubbed against her leg. She loved it! Josie on the other hand tried to chase Fooky and he ran off.
Since that day, Fooky has been showing up regularly during the day to lay in the sun on our deck. He will sit at our back door and wait until someone takes notice then rub against the window, tempting the girls to come out and play with him. I think he knows that once they are lured out, I will follow and if that happens, he's likely to get a treat. We bought some wet cat food when we heard that the previous owners fed the kitty now and again. I like to think of Fooky as our local "Tramp" from Lady and the Tramp. He wakes up and decides where he will head today. Or perhaps he gets fed in the morning across the street then once the older kids go to school he heads our way for a little attention and a treat. Then it's off to our elderly neighbors house for a visit indoors or maybe to help her with hanging out her wash. I also like to imagine him dining on some chicken bones behind the our Indian Take Away restaurant, or maybe the butcher leaves some treats out some nights.
Fooky does show up every evening trying to get in the door. Thank goodness the girls are already in bed because it would break their little hearts to have him begging to get in. We were airing the house out the other evening as it had been hot that day and was a bit stuffy when we heard a loud Meow and looked over to see that Fooky had entered and announced himself. He was ushered out but it was quite cute seeing him stroll in. He's definitely patched a very sensitive wound we all have living here on the other side of the world. Thanks Eliot for pulling some strings.
Things didn't quite go as planned with our Friday afternoon internet hookup (is anyone else starting to feel I shouldn't have been surprised) but my resourceful wife managed to pull a rabbit out of her hat and voila! Here I sit on the couch doing a post on a Saturday morning, while last night Brandie sat here reading through the mountain of email that had piled up while she was off-line. Things are right with the world again.
The Juice has a bit of a cold and is sleeping in (still a Grade A champion sleeper, that one!) while Sophie & Mama are making "waddles" (the penguin-shaped waffles that have already appeared in our photo album - clearly a hit). We're planning to hit Spray or the zoo this morning, out to Ngaio for a birthday party this afternoon and Brandie is attending the Food Show with some friends tomorrow. It already sounds like a fun weekend!
Email either of us to setup some Skype times - we're internet- and video-enabled again.