January 16th, 2015 | Author:

Note: If you’ve been around for long, you may recognize many of the photos in this and near term future posts. I have cleverly not provided myself with the cords required to get photos off either my camera or my phone.  Oops. Sorry for the boring repetition. I’ll go back to new pictures once I buy Australia friendly cords. [Not exactly the most sentimental of quotes, but information none the less…]

[Again, bracketed commentary by Jack.]

It’s Friday morning, and we are still in Los Angeles. I had felt really good about getting out last night, but we had been pushed back to places 7 and 8 on the wait list by new folks with higher priority and only the first 5 people left. Now, there are rumblings about travel not being likely for another week and a half. We will turn up every night anyway, though. We only need two seats and we can’t be seated if we aren’t there… [It’s really sad when the airport feels like home to you.]

Now lest our poor pining family think we are having way too much fun, here is the roundup of how we spend our days. [Please, no pesticide. Ha…ha… Bad pun. Sorry.]

a traffic stop sign burried in snow to just under the sign.

For my Michigan friends

Our days here in LA have started to take on a characteristic rhythm:

We arrive around midnight on the shuttle.  I wash out my travel clothes in the shower every other day or so and hang them to dry, then we read the Internet (to make sure the world is still spinning) for an hour and go to sleep. [More like turn into sacks of potatoes for 10 hours…]

Around 9am, just before the free breakfast is closed for the day, we crawl out of bed and make ourselves presentable, and go get something to eat. [Not today, unfortunately. *sigh*] I head right for the coffee, which is good, [Yes, if you don’t head for the coffee, you turn into a pumpkin in the middle of the day- you are quite talented at turning into all kinds of starchy vegetables…] and then we have powdered eggs as scrambles or omelets with CAFO bacon or sausage. [Scrumptious!]  Jack adds a yogurt and orange juice and I sometimes indulge in juice, too. I grab a second cup of coffee and some extra cream and we go back to the room. I make up the pot of less stellar room coffee, and we read Facebook, write thank you letters, read our books, and generally hang out. [Separately. In our own corners of the room.]  We have even fit in a few hotel workouts – push-ups, luggage lifts, planks, squats, etc. [We did that once…] I wish we were doing more of the workouts and less of the Facebook, but I am also not instigating it. [Which means I suggest it and she says, “Remind me later.” Only because you have the knack for instigating a workout when I m in the middle of a train of though! :p. Hmph.]

Most days I also go down to the front desk to explain again that 1) No, we are not checking out today, 2) Yes, our friend has paid for the room for tonight.  Yes, another friend. 3) No, we don’t know yet whether we will be staying tomorrow because we are flying standby and we hope to be over the Pacific by then, but we won’t know until late tonight. [When there is no turning back. I fail to see how we are going to get the room key back to them. They are electronic keys and completely interchangeable. We can mail them back later, but the stamp probably costs more. I see.]

At about 6:30 pm when we make sure our bags are packed and everything is accounted for, and then we go down to the shuttle. We ride to the airport, check in and check our bags, and have dinner. There are only a few gluten free options and the meat is CAFO, but the staff understand the question so I feel Jack is reasonably safe from gluten. [Do they really, though? Better than the MacDonalds across from the hotel, anyway. Some know more than others, though,  You’re right abut that. Well, it tastes better, but still…]

Then we walk around the terminal a few times, and then sit behind the gate where I can hear the announcements until the gate closes between 10 and 10:30 p.m.  Then we go back to luggage claim, get our bags, call the shuttle, and go back to the hotel…and start over.

a boy playing on an antique tractor in front of an old barn

July 2014
Redford New York

Today I let Jack sleep in because I know he needs more sleep than he has been getting lately. [Absolutely.] It’s almost noon and he hasn’t stirred yet [*clears throat loudly*] so I know he must have been as tired as he looked.  Once he’s ready, we’ll walk over to the 7-11  that I am told is nearby to see what we can find in the way of (probably)[possibly] gluten free calories for the boy’s breakfast, and I hope to drag him down to the mini-gym downstairs afterward to change things up a little.

Some observations on layovers:

  • It’s always a good idea to travel in comfortable clothes in layers. Airplanes and airports are very hot and stuffy, except when they are freezing. Rayon works well because it breathes when you’re warm and is quite cool if you get down to one layer but enough layers can be toasty warm and the layers aren’t bulky so they don’t take a lot of room in your carry-on when you need to stow them. On long layovers that stretch into the vast unknown, rayon is even better, because you can wash it in the shower at night, hang it in the shower, and it’s mostly dry by midmorning.  It doesn’t look any more rumpled than it did yesterday and it smells way better than it would have after a week without washing. (A little hotel shampoo can deal with the inevitable food spots.) [*end advertisement campaign for rayon clothing* Ahem. That was an informational campaign, thankyouverymuch. I don’t sell rayon. You’re welcome.]
  • There is no way to eat really clean when you don’t control the kitchen. But if you choose the same reasonably accommodating place for every meal, they get better and better at understanding the question. [Especially if you get the same waiter!] The good places generally have at least one person on a shift who knows where gluten is hiding. However, while you can avoid corn tortillas, sweet corn, and other obvious forms, catching corn starch, corn syrup, and the like is difficult, and catching the “derived from” sources is nigh on impossible in a restaurant unless it’s a very high end place that sources everything at the farmer’s market.  I can’t afford that level of indulgence, so I have had my ‘wheat stomach ache’ and my ‘corn bone ache’ pretty much constantly since the kitchen in Michigan was packed. Much more the latter than the former. Our snacks ran out days ago, too.  Another thing to look for at 7-11.  :p
  • Roller bags are a gift from the gods…or at least god-like engineers. In the 1970s and 1980s, I was hard pressed to carry just my own carry-on, and my packed luggage absolutely required assistance. That is the origin of my packing minimalism – ‘as long as I can manage, on as few outfits as possible’ is my MO. Today, with modern bags, even though Jack and I are moving across the planet, so minimalism isn’t an option, we have no trouble at all moving our six bags through the world on our own. Hotel carpeting is a bit of a pain (I wonder whether that will go out of style now that it slows roller bags…) but we can do it entirely unassisted without pain or exhaustion.  Wow!  I am so glad that I eyed our ratty old luggage and decided to invest in new matching sets for all of us. This would have been much harder with carry only duffel bags and old fashioned suitcases.

 

January 16th, 2015 | Author:

July 12, 2014 at 12:37 pm (Forgot to hit “publish”.  Oops.

Hey, everyone!

It seems likely that the only folks who will ever read this have it set up so they get a notice when I post, but I’m back. :)

a black and white photo of Jack at 11, showing every sign of adolescence

Jack at 11

Looking back, I see that I have posted more recently than I remembered. That’s good. But life since November has been a whirlwind of cleaning, packing, and (hardest of all) paring down our possessions to what we really have to keep.

I am a bit of a packrat, so I had tonnes of treasures socked away in every corner of this 1700 sq ft house. Since we have to pay for every ounce we carry across, that had to be winnowed for the most important treasures. Since wood has to be funmigated before entry, it seemed wisest to get rid of it. (That means the furniture has to be replaced.) Since glass, ceramic, and crystal are fragile and likeliest to break enroute, I mostly passed that along, too. (Some things, like wedding gifts and dishes, I am taking my chances with.)

So now, virtually everything we are taking, but don’t need day to day, is packed up and stacked out of the way and the house is for sale. The stuff we actually need day to day looks pretty sparse and the place no longer feels like home…though it is a lot easier to keep it sparkling so we can show it on 30 minutes notice.  (If only my lovely boys remembered that that was the goal.  We can show on the weekend or on Monday morning, but by Wednesday we need way more notice.  *sigh*  Oh well, we have only had one viewing, which is what we expected.  The house is priced very high for the area.  But that’s what we owe the bank, and the bank isn’t feeling cooperative.  They don’t see any reason we can’t just stay put and keep paying the mortgage.

One reason that it has become urgent also changes the plan in Australia completely. Rod has had three strokes in the last 18 months.  He now drags his left side and has serious trouble speaking and writing.  The odds of his being able to work are slim and we have to get him home asap.  He has had his heart and circulatory system inspected and that isn’t where the problem is.  His blood vessels are clear as a whistle and his heart is strong. He had a treatment to repair the damage he did to his neck and head 20 years ago, and he has been functioning better since then, but it hasn’t really resolved the issue the way we had hoped it would. Has it reduced the chances of another stroke?  We hope so.  But we really don’t know.  We do know, my baby needs to be home, asap.  He isn’t one to complain or show it in social situaitons, but the strokes have really made a mess of his self image and his confidence.

A lovely sepia "selfie" of the bride and groom

Michael and Agnes (Nessie) Smith

Another really important reason we have to get home – there are important members of the family we haven’t met yet! Michael married his lovely bride, Nessie, on the 9th of July. We haven’t met Nessie, yet and we can’t wait to.

We also haven’t met Joel and Makita’s sons Rhazel and Rodney – and now they have another on the way around the beginning of the new year! So exciting!

The plan for the trip is shaping up nicely. My retirement date is 19 December, and we now think that our departure date is around 1 February. That gives us time to find a shipper and wrap things up here, after my visa application is approved. It could all move faster, but that would be very rushed.

January 15th, 2015 | Author:

If the hero in an adventure story walks out the door of his home and into the dragon’s cave without incident, kills the dragon on the first shot without incident, and then walks home with the gold without incident, it’s not much of an adventure story! That’s just all in a day’s work.  This, my friends, is an adventure! [ Be advised- no dragons have been harmed,  no caves trespassed, and gold stolen during this adventure. ]

[comments in brackets by Jack]

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getting brighter …

Jack and I are now lounging in Los Angeles, waiting for the gods to turn the wheels of fate and get us upgraded to “passenger”. [Yes, passenger would be nice…] Our tickets were for standby, since we can’t really afford full fare.  Usually that doesn’t matter, but it seems that everyone in the country wants to go to Sydney this week and every flight is overbooked by impressive amounts. [ This may create serious over-crowding issues for Sydney.]

We arrived here in LA on Monday morning (having left Detroit very early) planning for a 12 hour layover and then to be off to Sydney.  We did our best to entertain ourselves at the airport, though the weeks leading in to our departure had been grueling and had involved short sleep and little real food, so we were exhausted.  (Have I ever mentioned how much my son impresses me? [Only 50 times this week. Thank you, though.] As exhausted as he has been, he has never been grumpy with me.  At worst he gets very, very quiet and solemn.  He clearly didn’t get that particular strength from me!  But I can be reasonable when I am exhausted, as long as no one else is unreasonable with me [which mean breathing too deeply], so we’ve been doing really well.  This young man is such a joy to travel with!) [*blush*]

Anyway, on Thursday, the movers came.  They were an hour and a half late, because the wind chill was -45 (a goodbye gift from my beloved Michigan winter), and the truck was cranky, and then they lost their way to our house when they missed a turn. That’s OK.  I was signing papers at the end before I realized that they had been late, and then only because they had written it on the forms.  I had been too busy to watch the clock. Anyway, remember I mentioned the wind chill?  Yeah; well, it was necessary to take the door off the hinges to get the dolly in and out with boxes on it.  It took four hours to load the truck.  It was a tad nippy even in the house (not much point in having the furnace roaring with no door) and my hands are still rough and red from cold damage.  It was hilarious, but I did feel very bad for the fellow who was hauling the boxes out into the freezing gale. He kept coming in from a load and huddling over a furnace vent trying to get warm. It was cold in the house; I can’t imagine how much colder it was out in the wind. [I was on a sleepover for most of that part, but it was pretty cold.]

Friday and Saturday were our days to say goodbye.  Jack had a party on Friday with his homeschool friends and I had an open house on Saturday for people to drop in to say goodbye.  It was wonderful to see everyone, but also overwhelmingly sad for both Jack and me. Before and after the parties, I was frantically sorting to make sure I had not forgotten anything.  On Friday, the moms of Jack’s friends spotted a closet I hadn’t even looked at yet and helped me to go through it. (Thanks, Nerida, Mary, and Stacey!) They found two pair of brand new shoes I had bought as backup and forgotten about!!!  (I have a miserable time finding shoes that fit, so when I order a pair that feels heavenly, I try to buy another couple of pair, since they always discontinue wonderful shoes right after I discover them! Whew!  That was close! Thank you so much, ladies!!!)

On Sunday, our last day in Michigan, we spent the day scrabbling to get done everything that we needed to do before we left. It seemed that no matter how hard I worked, no matter how long the hours, I never quite got “within cooee” of getting it all done. Thankfully, Linda is handling the stuff I couldn’t get to and then she and Paula and Nerida, and Jan will get the remaining stuff shipped.  In the evening, our dear friend, Mark, drove us to a hotel near the Detroit airport. We had an early Monday flight to Los Angeles, and Michigan decided to throw a blizzard to see me off, so rather than ask anyone to drive through that at 5 a.m. [Who sets these hours?] , we went to a hotel in the evening and took the shuttle to the airport in the morning. It just made more sense. [And it wasn’t borderline cruelty.]

Not making the flight to Sydney was a possibility that I knew about, but I was emotionally unprepared for it. We were devastated. All I could imagine was weeks taking turns with Jack sleeping on the airport floor.  Paula, who arranged the tickets for us, offered to bring us back to Michigan, but emotionally, we can’t bring ourselves to turn back now. We have said too many goodbyes and our lives are now ahead! [Well, right now they’re at a bit of a standstill…]

We were exhausted, near tears [We?] , and a serious mess, so I did what I always do under those circumstances.  I called my beloved Rodney. As he always does, just by being Rodney [And, you know, breathing, and maybe talking.] , my love talked [I rest my case.] me through it and calmed me down. The poor guy had to deal with my helpless [No.], doom-saying [Eh… I guess so…] , negative first reactions [dramatic might be a better adjective…], but he’s used to that I guess. [You think?]  He just keeps using his soothing voice and I start to feel my brain turning over and the world starts to look brighter. I usually just go with his advice no matter how unlikely it seems to me that it will work, because he is usually right. After a few minutes, my brain started to work and I decided that the first thing we needed was a good night’s sleep and a shower. [Not to mention food.] The flights to Sydney leave Los Angeles every 24 hours at 10:30 pm. It was going to be a long wait even for the next available flight, and I knew from discussions with the agents that every flight for a week or more is overbooked and this could take a while.

I started to research hotels in the area, but just as the page came up listing the hotels that have 24 hour shuttle service, my phone’s battery died. (Sunday night’s hotel had no electric outlets.  One down side of a cheap hotel.) The only hotel whose name I saw before the phone died was the one I asked the cab to take us to. (It was too late for the shuttle so I would have needed the hotel’s phone number to call the shuttle after hours – and my phone was dead. A cab it was.)

We settled in and got some sleep, and the next morning  – as I often do – I whinged on Facebook. I was already feeling better, but the challenge of many nights in the hotel taking me closer to the desperate need for an income immediately was still stressful. Several friends immediately offered to help us out with the hotel bill.  I gratefully accepted and they have been calling the desk and paying a night at a time.  That removed the last of the panic factors.  Now it is just a waiting game. [The Waiting Games… I like it.]

I hope to be on tonight’s flight.  Jack and I were #1 and #2 on the wait list last night, so if there are any seats we might we get them. (If no one with higher priority signs in today.)

When Rod and I dreamed about this day for 15 years, I never envisioned doing it alone.  Just as well.  I’m pretty sure I would have been terrified out of my mind. To some degree, it is true that this is an impossible task to do alone.  But I have never been alone in all of this.  Our friends have come together to lift Jack and me out of panic and to help us at every step.  Each friend has brought something different to the project, and all of the contributions have been vital. Not to downplay those very tangible helps, but I think that the greatest gift any of them has given to Jack and me, is the understanding that we are loved and we are not alone in this amazing adventure. With friends like these, no adventure is too much to handle. [ I agree.]

Category: Australia  | One Comment
January 07th, 2015 | Author:

It’s been a long, grueling road over the last five months, with little time for introspection and blogging. My apologies for not making time – but when I am very emotional I am not terribly coherent and that made it almost impossible to find anything to talk about that would be even marginally interesting.

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We have packed up our lives into a stack of boxes, tied off all the threads that made up our lives here, and lived like squatters for months, making due with as few possession as possible so that everything stayed in its boxes rather than sneaking out to play and making packing later -now-more difficult.

We have said goodbyes, we have cried, and we have dreamed about an amorphous future on the other side of the globe. We have reached out to home-schoolers, dojos, and chess clubs in our new town. We have ignored it all and watched way too much TV. (On dvd on the laptop, but escape is escape.)

But tomorrow the movers come and take away our boxes.  We will be saying our goodbyes over the weekend, and then at dawn on Monday, we are on our way!

It’s amazing to me how having the flight settled has changed my mood.  For the last month, I have been near tears a lot of the time. We announced over a year ago that we were leaving and it seems like we have had a steady stream of “last times” and “goodbyes” since then, with the pace becoming breakneck once Rod left for Australia in September.

My permanent resident visa came through in mid-November and planning and packing went into high gear. I retired and started closing accounts and wrapping up day to day details in early December … and by last week it had all become too much emotionally.

Then the retirement money cleared the bank and Jack’s Australian passport arrived so we were able to make flight arrangements.  When my friend, Paula, who works at the airlines, called yesterday afternoon with itinerary, the sun came out for me. Now I feel like I can look ahead and I realize that I had spent many weeks and months looking backward.

I had spent more than 30 years making this area my home after a rather footloose youth. Each time I went somewhere that had been familiar in my past, I was painfully aware that the odds were that I would never see it again. You can only do that for so long before it all gets overwhelming.

Now my attention can turn to wrapping up the last details here and starting my new life in Australia.  What a relief.  As much as I will miss everyone here, I can’t take many more endings and knowing that beginnings will start in five days has made life so much easier.

Jack and I have been discussing that we will need a new look for the blog, though…this house goes back to the bank on Friday (that’s another long story for another day.) and is no longer Chez Smiffy.  We will be looking for a new look once we get there.

Category: Australia  | Leave a Comment
December 11th, 2014 | Author:
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Shorn! Ugh

Another disconcerting new change…

I had my hair hacked off in acknowledgement of big changes afoot.

I don’t like it. It’s too hard to keep it out of my face and I think it looks ugly and graceless. Fortunately I am now old enough to understand that it’s just hair. It will grow back. I’m annoyed by it, but that was always going to be the case, and I am not emotionally devastated like I have been by haircuts in the past. I know that there is no way a stranger will ever be able to know what I will like, and I deliberately chose the haircutter with the first empty seat that I encountered. The poor guy was very wary about it – he had no clue about hair the texture of mine, but he was game to give it a go. I told him he was an artist and a gentleman and gave him a largish tip for taking th chance.

December 11th, 2014 | Author:
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dark days, growing brighter

A few days to Yule. A few days since I retired. So, so much is happening so quickly.

My application for a resident visa was approved a few weeks ago, so I am good to go.  I thought I would have to wait a couple of years for a permanent resident visa, but they gave me that one straight up. An advantage to having been married to an Aussie for more than a decade and having an Aussie citizen son, I suppose.

I got word last week that Rod is really not well.  He is regaining function quickly, but the damage from his four strokes is  much more extensive than we could have guessed.  The damage is from both bleeding and clotting strokes, making it dangerous to try to treat the strokes.  That makes every transition from one medication to another really dangerous and the long term prospects very frightening if they don’t find a medication that works in the long term very soon.

I announced on the day that I got the news that I would retire at the end of the week, and I did so, on Friday.  Now, I am packing the remaining parts of the house and repacking the parts that had already been done so that I can make an inventory.

The toughest part of the packing has been dismantling my beloved home, so a group of dear friends came over to put everything into boxes to make it emotionally easier and it has been. I still haven’t managed the emotional endurance to finish my craft room…but the rest of the house is essentially done.  Once things are in boxes, I seem to be able to handle them more objectively.

On Monday we go to Chicago to get Jack’s Australian passport, and in the mix somewhere I have to request paperwork from work and that my retirement funds be deposited in my bank so we have something to live on when I get there.  My plan is to leave on december 25 and to arrive on boxing day. It has a nice symmetry since I arrived in the Detroit metro area on December 24, 1982.

I am so very grateful for good friends.  This is really hard and my instinct is to go hide somewhere, hoping it will all just go away.  It won’t, of course. And my friends are helping me immensely to keep going.  In our imaginations, Rod and I worked on all of this together.  It’s a big and very emotional job – and without Rod here to hold me when I feel overwhelmed, some days are harder than others. On the bright side, i will be with him again soon.

There is so much happening.  So much to say…but I am overwhelmed and not feeling terribly verbal.  However now that m ore fo my time is my own, maybe…?

Category: 2015  | 2 Comments
September 16th, 2014 | Author:

Rod’s flight is over Nevada right now. In 20 minutes he will land at Los Angeles and board a flight to Sydney.
An old barn door with worn wood
Life has just made a HUGE 180.

Jack and I have to go on without our rock for the next six months.  I can no longer say “Could you handle that, my love?” when something seems daunting.  It’s all mine now.

But I just keep reminding myself that in a few hours, Rod will finally be getting the medical care he needs with no ‘changes in course’ due to the expense.  By the time I see him in March, he may well have made his goal happen.  He intends to get therapy, get a job, and start supporting us.  From anyone else, I’d call it a pipe dream, but Rod has done so many astonishing things that I am not ready to write off the possibility.  But I made sure that he knew that as welcome as that idea is, I’m not counting on it.

Jack is torn. He is very sad about his Dad being away.  But he is so excited about the alternate arrangements – living for the day with his friends’ families – that he is having trouble thinking of all this as a really bad thing.

I know what he means.  We can now eat peanut butter and cheese and seafood  – foods that Rod is allergic to – without compunction. We intend to indulge.

I am looking forward to hearing from my honey in writing – the way we courted, but for which we had little use while we cohabited.  I wouldn’t have set him away to get letters – but getting letters does take some of the sting out.

I’m very sad and scratching for reasons that this is a good thing.

September 02nd, 2014 | Author:

Wow, a lot has happened.

I intended to post a lot more and a lot more often, but our blog was on a corrupted part of a server, or something. (I never asked what happened.) It disappeared completely!

Our service provider was able to get it all back up (thanks, Steve!) but on a new version of the software, which has meant having to figure out the new software, reinstall Discuss, get my account straighthened out, and all that comes up with almost starting over. Fortunately, it looks like all the old posts are there. (I haven’t found the old drafts, but that’s not a disaster.)
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As I’m sure you will remember, Rod has been having strokes for about 20 months now.  The first one was mostly annoying to him since it caused him to lose sensation on the left side of his body, but in May (on Jack’s 11th birthday, actually) he had the first of the more serious strokes.

That one left him unable to speak clearly or to write for several months. He later had a stroke that caused no discernable physical symptoms but had a serious effect on his cognitive function.  He became really confused and started to need to sleep a great deal.  At first it was 20 hours per day, which was really rough for poor Jack.

My honey is a fighter, and he is fighting his way back from these, too.  He is now intelligible unless he is very tired, but his diction is not clear and his voice is weak.  However he is able to function again and he is far less confused, though he still needs a long nap mid-day to get through the day.

The disruption of his cognitive function meant that it was no longer safe for him to drive, which means that all of his driving chores (shopping, taking him to the doctor, etc) are now on me. Fortunately, my manager is very understanding and he is happy for me to work from home and come and go from the office as needed to take care of things.

The good news is that Rod’s doctor has continued to research Rod’s difficult case.  (None of the “normal” blood pressure medications keep his blood pressure down for more than a few days, but all come with hideous side effects that last long after his blood pressure has returned to “scary high”.  He found an off label medication, intended for treating ADHD, that sometimes effects blood pressure.  It works!  It lowers Rod’s blood pressure so well that he found the upper limit when he passed out with blood pressure so low his meter couldn’t read it!  Yikes! That was scary, but it’s also a relief that he can keep the pressure down to protect his brain.

However the pill can’t treat the *cause* of the persistently high blood pressure and we simply can’t afford the tests that would be required to figure that out.  Our operating theory is that it may be scar tissue from a head injury he recieved 20 years ago.  The injury was serious enough to cause real trouble then, so it seems quite possible.  But that would requires a very long and involved MRI to locate and quantify the problem and then comes the treatment, which also wouldn’t be cheap.

So… *sigh*  Rod is returning to Australia in 13 days!  He can get free and low cost medical care there.  He will feel less “useless” than he says he feels here, watching Jack and I carry the load he has always carried, so it will be good for his mental health.  He already has a doctor there thanks to his sister, and his sister will take over his care. I’m eternally grateful to our friends Mark T and Paula M for, between them, making this possible!  No way could we have pulled this off without them.

The Smiths in our last family portrait in America

(c) 2014 Erika Woolams

That leaves me to sell the house.  It’s been on the market since June but since it is at the price we owe the bank no one has been willing to buy.  We lower the price this week.  I got the paperwork from the bank that didn’t *say* they would accept less, but did ask if we had an offer and how much it was for…which I am taking to mean that we can offer it at market value.  It can’t close in two weeks, even if someone grabs it the day the price goes down, but I am hoping it sells so I only have to handle packing and signing on my own. (Well, and moving to an apartment, and arranging to have all our goods shipped to Australia, and…) I lean really hard on my honey and all of this is pretty scary.

Rod and Jack have built an amazing group of friends, who have all kindly taken me in, too.  They have offered Jack a place in their homeschools so that I can continue to work – and I am hoping that with so many of them splitting the job, it won’t be too onerous for anyone to have an extra kid around.  I am truly amazed at how loving and generous this group of friends is.  Actually, when I think about it it makes me cry.  So, for part of September, October, November, and part of December, Jack will tour his friends lives and see how other families do home education – and they tell me that they are looking forward to seeing how Jack does his.  (But he will be cutting way back for those months, since his studies take three hours per day, which would be way too much to ask of his friends. He will take one book per day.)

I packed my craft supplies over the weekend.  I miss crafting, but there really hasn’t been time lately. It seems like every time I think I have time to pack the last few rooms, we have a viewing so that I spend the time polishing the house for that instead. I also need a completely dry weekend so I can put the last of the stuff at the curb.

Anyway, that’s what we’re up to.  I hope that all is well with any of you who are still around.  :)

 

July 12th, 2014 | Author:

Hey, everyone!

It seems likely that the only folks who will ever read this have it set up so they get a notice when I post, but I’m back. :)

a black and white photo of Jack at 11, showing every sign of adolescence

Jack at 11

Looking back, I see that I have posted more recently than I remembered. That’s good. But life since November has been a whirlwind of cleaning, packing, and (hardest of all) paring down our possessions to what we really have to keep.

 

I am a bit of a packrat, so I had tonnes of treasures socked away in every corner of this 1700 sq ft house. Since we have to pay for every ounce we carry across, that had to be winnowed for the most important treasures. Since wood has to be funmigated before entry, it seemed wisest to get rid of it. (That means the furniture has to be replaced.) Since glass, ceramic, and crystal are fragile and likeliest to break enroute, I mostly passed that along, too. (Some things, like wedding gifts and dishes, I am taking my chances with.)

So now, virtually everything we are taking, but don’t need day to day, is packed up and stacked out of the way and the house is for sale. The stuff we actually need day to day looks pretty sparse and the place no longer feels like home…though it is a lot easier to keep it sparkling so we can show it on 30 minutes notice.  (If only my lovely boys remembered that that was the goal.  We can show on the weekend or on Monday morning, but by Wednesday we need way more notice.  *sigh*  Oh well, we have only had one viewing, which is what we expected.  The house is priced very high for the area.  But that’s what we owe the bank, and the bank isn’t feeling cooperative.  They don’t see any reason we can’t just stay put and keep paying the mortgage.

One reason that it has become urgent also changes the plan in Australia completely. Rod has had three strokes in the last 18 months.  He now drags his left side and has serious trouble speaking and writing.  The odds of his being able to work are slim and we have to get him home asap.  He has had his heart and circulatory system inspected and that isn’t where the problem is.  His blood vessels are clear as a whistle and his heart is strong. He had a treatment to repair the damage he did to his neck and head 20 years ago, and he has been functioning better since then, but it hasn’t really resolved the issue the way we had hoped it would. Has it reduced the chances of another stroke?  We hope so.  But we really don’t know.  We do know, my baby needs to be home, asap.  He isn’t one to complain or show it in social situaitons, but the strokes have really made a mess of his self image and his confidence.

A lovely sepia "selfie" of the bride and groom

Michael and Agnes (Nessie) Smith

Another really important reason we have to get home – there are important members of the family we haven’t met yet! Michael married his lovely bride, Nessie, on the 9th of July. We haven’t met Nessie, yet and we can’t wait to.

 

We also haven’t met Joel and Makita’s sons Rhazel and Rodney – and now they have another on the way around the beginning of the new year! So exciting!

The plan for the trip is shaping up nicely. My official retirement date is 19 December, and we now think that our departure date is around 1 February. That gives us time to find a shipper and wrap things up here, after my visa application is approved. It could all move faster, but pushing to make it that would be very rushed. I have had enougha ll work and no play these last few months. :p

In one of my more recent posts – January, I think — I mentioned that we were going to go for a more strict interpretation of paleo. We did that, and it “worked so well” (at reducing my apetite) that I started to eat later and later in the morning. I am never hungry in the morning, but I was getting to 1 or 2 pm before I wanted more than my coffee on many days. I noticed that my trousers were getting more snug, but I put it down to the fact that I hadn’t had the energy to walk as much as usual (which I blamed on the Augean Project at home).  However I had the chance to test my blood sugar a few weeks back and was alarmed to find that it was high forst thing in the morning and went *higher* as the day wore on even with no food!

That made no sense to me because I never had symptoms of hypoglycemia.  However I did some research and discovered that fasting has that effect on two groups of people.  People who already have pancreatic dysfunction (me!) and women, especially post menopause (again, me!).  So…Rod has again started making “breakfast cookies” so I can have one with my coffee.  It makes me hungry all day, but evidently that’s better than not being hungry. Oddly enough, I now have the energy to walk again!  Oh well.

When Rod’s choir and Jack’s Sunday school quit for the summer, Rod started taking Jack to karate.  That meant that I have not been sitting somewhere that I couldn’t be packing or cleaning, and so my studies have stalled – probably also for the summer.  That and crafting have been on a back burner for quite a while.  And now it looks like my first order of business once we are in Australia will be to find a job, so I don’t know when I will pick them up seriosuly again. Oh well, the piecemeal I had been doing can resume once Choir and Sunday school start up again.

Well, while I haven’t been studying or blogging, I have managed to have *some* fun.  I have started making our own saurkraut.  That came out so well that after my second batch, I decided to try dill pickles.  It’s easy, so I hope it works out.  Real fermented pickles at the store are super expensive and I can’t have the cheap ones because most are pickled in corn vinegar.

Ahh, well.  I hope to do this every weekend now that packing and cleaning are essentially done.  Have a great weekend!

March 22nd, 2014 | Author:

Fun news – our copies of Jack’s book have just come in!

We have agreed that the next installment should probably have a slightly bigger foint, but otherwise we’re pretty happy with it. And Jack is well into part 2! He was so excited about the fantastic response that he was inspired to get to it, dropping his work on the cat book he was working on for the time being. A PDF of part 2 will be available to purchasers of part 1, but we will also publish parts 1 and 2 together in a new release of the book.

Jack in a suit January 2014
In preparation to start taking charge of Jack’s middle school education I have been doing a great deal of research. In the process, I discovered that there is a whole new level of reading that I had never learned or even been aware of. I picked up a used copy of How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and have been working my way through it, using The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman as a practice book. (I had picked that up last spring and read it through, but came away pretty sure that I had missed a lot.)

Since it was a used book, and the previous owner had taken Adler’s advice to heart and had marked the book up thoroughly, cleverly missing the point of almost every paragraph, I have started making my notes in a separate notebook, which I find makes it easier for me to slow down and really think about Adler’s points.

It’s a long, slow process, but I am enjoying it very much.  I think I will be able, by the end, not only to read better myself, but also to share the process with Jack a little at a time so that he comes away able to read more deeply than is usual in anyone with (as Adler describes) less than a Ph.D.

Am I nuts that this is my idea of a really good time?  It’s right up there with hiking in the woods.  :)