A Year of Lasts & Firsts
The Story So Far
So we’ve known since about last March that our big trip was coming, but there’s only so much you can do that far in advance, and most of it, frankly, was up to Cecile as it’s her gig. There was learning about the area, trying to brush up on my Spanish, helping Cecile when and where asked, and letting clients know I would be gone. But come January, things started to get real.
First of the Lasts
It started with grocery shopping. Second week of January or so I started to really think when buying larger items. The biggest challenges were peanut butter for Joel’s lunches (he wants peanut butter & jelly every day) and flour (we make all our own bread). And I have to give myself snaps for that. While we ended up with some extra flour, that went in the freezer. But the peanut butter we almost finished and brought the small amount remaining with us for eating on the road to Chicago. Finished up the strawberry jam (also homemade) perfectly, and the bread as well. If he hadn’t had snow & sick days half the year, I’m not sure it would have worked out as well. So maybe the snow served a purpose after all.
Last of the Lasts
The last two weeks things really got crazy. Aside from having to say goodbye to Cecile for almost two weeks, there was the need to prepare the house for our being gone for four months.
This was, surprisingly, one of the the easiest things, though it didn’t have to be that way. We found people to take the cats (fairly east) and the dog (got lucky when one of Cecile’s colleagues agreed to take our beagle) and a pet store in Peking to take the fish (more on that a little later). But nothing was going to be that easy. There was a last minute snag with one of the cat takers, but the person taking two agreed to take three, so it was really just less than 24 hours of panic. Similar situation with the fish. I was going to take them down the Friday before we left, but then it decided to change the less than 1 inch of snow to a winter weather advisory with another 3-4 inches. While I still took the dog for his final bath and grooming, the 25 minute drive to Pekin seemed inadvisable. So they went Saturday instead, throwing the whole schedule off again.
Well this one again seems to be under control. Cecile paid everything well in advance so all should be ok. Until one arrived on Friday, the quarterly (thus not having shown up when she was paying everything else ahead) sewer district bill. So I wrote a check for double the amount and was going to put it in our mail slot when I realized Monday was a holiday, no mail pick up or delivery. Fortunately our fabulous neighbors, who are already doing so much to help us, agreed to allow us the use of their mail box to mail out our final bill (and Joel’s last thank you notes).
Tough to admit, but this might have been the most important. Certain places just must be visited, even if we might not visit them more than once every four months even when we’re around. For Joel, the most important was his favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Jimadores, where we got takeout after his last ballet class.Then, during one of our few inter-snow periods we headed to One World, which was too crowded so we had a last Happy Fish Sushi instead. And then Monday during the, yes, Winter Storm Warning, there was a short break where it was merely sleeting so we made our last One World run. Sadly, all the bad weather led to us to miss a final visit to Over Easy Cafe, which was very much on our agenda, but a longer drive which just didn’t happen because of all the bad weather. Might have to be a First of the Firsts when we get back.
This may have been during our last snow storm, but it’s hard to keep track.
- Joel’s last day of school
- Joel’s last day of ballet (mentioned above)
- Last delivery of DVDs to clients
First of the Firsts
That came with the handoff of the dog on Sunday. For the first time since my first day in the house 8 1/2 years ago, arriving before Cecile with the pets, there were no pets in the house. It had already gotten quieter with no cats, then no fish tank noise, but no dog really made things seem quiet and empty. Especially as Joel was spending lots of time with his friends. It was weird being totally alone in the house for hours at a time.
- For the first time since it was put in place, my production iMac was moved from its appointed spot and put in storage, covered up, as were all the various peripherals.
- First time traveling by bus with Joel (I believe)
Next of the Firsts
- First time traveling internationally with Joel and no Cecile
- First time using my new passport (later today)
- Well, too many to count really, they’ll show up in blog entries
Thanks for reading