Friday, July 27, 2007

The Last Sushi Dinner

The best antidote to rising anxiety about random things one can't possibly control is to drown oneself in beer and all-you-can-eat sushi with the aunts, uncles, and cousins. We took the kids to the Vancouver Aquarium yesterday with the Olins and the Carlsons (in order from the left going clockwise: Kathy, Dave, Me, Samuel, Grace, Nicole, Baillie, Chris, Kenny, Dave, Tom, and Emily) and then ate more sushi than you would believe possible at Tanpopo. I particularly liked the idea of eating lots of raw fish, knowing that once we get to Hohhot we'll have to wash, peel, and cook something as simple as an apple in order to eat it.

We've been hearing some interesting dispatches from Hohhot, such as the foreign experts (yes, that is what they call Dave) will have a brand new building next year, to replace the one that has been used for a very very long time. Many colorful images come to mind as I imagine our new-old-home-to-be. Internet continues to be an issue, I guess, as there is alot of paperwork involved in getting it, and certain restrictions in using it. For the moment, we are just hoping that Dave will be able to finish his on-line class, and that I'll be able to continue to post. I feel kind of silly when I start worrying about internet access. I mean, not too far in the distant past that would have been the least of a person's worries.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Finally Off and Out of Range

The camera is packed so no picture, although the bags all over the living room floor, gorged with books, drugs, and clothes (and a couple stuffed animals), are certainly worthy of being memorialized on "film". We leave tomorrow for Bellingham and a little downtime with Grandpa and Grandma and the many cousins, aunts, and uncles. We can't wait. I don't know that I'll post while there, and then there is a little problem with getting internet on Dave's computer in Hohhot. Apparently it needs some kind of card to get the www. I'll write as soon as we're established.

Took the laundry line down and stored it in the basement. I guess we're really going to leave--amazing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ode to My Laundry Line

I have been obsessively and ridiculously attached to my new umbrella laundry line: lovingly pinning up wet clothes, dodging the wasps who love the pins, baking in the 100 degree heat to fold up the sweet-smelling clothes and bring them back inside. At the back of my mind I wonder as I do this, why am I so in love with this totally cliched symbol of domesticity? Yes, I bought it with money earned working in Alaska, not so domestic, that. But really, what is more bougie (as in bourgeois) than doing your laundry in the energy-saving front loader and then having the time and headspace to deal with hanging it up outside all day long? Taking the stay-at-home-mom thing to the limit, for now, anyway. But I realized today that my obsession with the laundry line is what it represents to me right now, as I get closer to our take-off time, and more and more stressed out about everything. I mean, I still have to: pack (a truly daunting task that I am leaving to the very very last moment), clear off the desk and pack away the computer, get the last Hep B shot, get Grace's cast off, try to get rid of the skunk, get in a swim so I can finally see Samuel dive and Grace jump off the diving board, gather up the math manipulatives I'll need for both 1st grade and 3rd grade math, clean out the car so we can fit 8 suitcases, clean up the house a little so as to not totally gross out the housesitters, etc. etc. And do the last bit of laundry.

Ahhh, and there it is--the laundry line. I have all of these things to do, but the laundry line is a quiet moment of order, peace, calm. It's my nice quiet life, when we just do our lessons, drive to fiddle or gymnastics, bake bread, go on nature hikes, visit friends. It's all that is known and safe. It's clean and orderly and unchanging. That's a great thing when life is in an uproar. Maybe next summer I won't be so in love with my laundry line, but right now, it's the best thing going.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Skunk, Sewer, Drugs

Jaimi (of "Nathan and Jaimi the Housesitters") called me yesterday to see about a final walk-through before we leave town next week. "Umm, okay, the house is in shambles, Dave is completely re-caulking and re-painting the bathroom, and the kids are screaming for their Friday night movie, but sure, why not... Ack! There's a skunk in the backyard!" Apparently a young skunk has taken a fancy to our shed in back (the tip of the roof is barely visible behind all the drugs in the picture) and is living underneath it. Fluffy and Tom the cats seem to have made a truce with it, since Fluffy especially follows it around (at least 4 feet behind). I don't know if it's a good thing, although my nature study book says that skunks are excellent for ridding one's property of mice, our other "favorite" visitors from the great outdoors. Jaimi and Nathan came over despite the skunk (who ambled off to Mr. Riggs' yard, Fluffy in tow) and still seem willing to live here.

Of course, that was before we woke up this morning, all eager to go over to Walla Walla to see the grannies one last time. Dave and Samuel were cleaning brushes in the laundry room this morning when I flushed our very very slow and cantankerous toilet, only to have sewer water bubble up from the drain in said laundry room. Five hours later and after a 2 hour visit from Mr. Roto-Rooter, the plug of sludge is now gone. Toilet is still slow, but the basement is clean, disinfected, and ready for business again. In a truly perverse way of thinking, we are grateful it happened this weekend instead of next.

Which leads me to all the drugs. Okay okay, really I bought them before the skunk and the sewer, but get a load of all of it! The pharmacist at Safeway counseled me to get all this stuff, so there it is, me being the overly cautious parent and wondering about water quality and where oh where is one to buy these things in Hohhot? Presumably I will find it out, eventually, along with where to get my hair cut, do my laundry, and buy untainted food.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Going to China (or, Fixing Up the House for the Housesitters, One Bucket at a Time)

I thought packing and organizing for a seven-month trip to Inner Mongolia was going to be challenging enough, but learning how to set up a blog takes the cake. Here it is, though, in all its glory, just like the fancy waterproofing job rigged up by Dave in our basement.

We're in the final weeks of what has been a year-long preparation to go to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, and both Dave and I feel like the list just isn't getting any shorter. Everyone is excited though, even Samuel and Grace, which is a minor miracle ("Just as long as we don't have to eat dog, snake, or frog, Mama.")