Saturday, August 11, 2018

Status update

New kitchen installation, Day 1.

Short version: our transition is ongoing.

Slightly longer version: we've been camped out in northern Virginia in a friend's basement for 5 weeks; tomorrow we shift to a short-stay apartment closer to our new house/construction site. We have now officially entered the intensive phase of renovation, and our household goods are expected to arrive in port from Australia shortly. Summer vacation 2.0 is entering its final phase for Miss B, with just over 2 weeks until school starts. DP is enjoying settling into his new job, and my working life has entered an interesting phase, of which more later - right now I'm mainly focused on juggling between work and contractor responsibilities, interspersed with occasional interactions with spouse and child.

My mantra of the moment: "It'll all get done somehow." And I'm not complaining - I knew what August would be like when I signed up for this.

One of the main reasons that makes it all worth it: being able to join my family's Cape vacation for the first time in ten years:


Desserts: my mum's chocolate cake, with vanilla buttercream frosting (top);
Food52 Shortcut Pie with a gluten-free cookie crust filled with roasted peaches and raspberries (bottom)

Highlights included s'mores on the back patio and a mass birthday party for all the summer birthdays in my family (about half of the 15 people in attendance - I contributed the desserts). Other highlights, not pictured: the cousins' sleeping loft; Mexican train dominoes; loafing in rocking chairs on the porch; unscheduled time with a lot of people I've been missing for a long time.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Settling in

Chocolate-cherry birthday cake; flavor combo requested by the birthday girl (host family/friend turning 14) and executed by me using my mother's Chocolate-Chocolate Cake with a layer of cherry jam in the middle and fresh cherries on top

It's exactly one month today since we left Australia. It's a rainy Saturday afternoon and the temperature is in the mid-60s F, a welcome change from the pretty consistent 90F (30C) weather we've had since we got to the northern hemisphere, first in Italy and now here. The friends who have been kind enough to let us camp out in their in-law apartment are away for the weekend, so the house is quiet and empty apart from the three of us. And it's the first weekend day in a while with no commitments or major errands on the schedule, which feels like a luxury after everything that's been happening.

People keep asking me how the transition's going, and I list off all the things we've accomplished since we've arrived, which mostly involve acquiring things like cars and phones, or plugging ourselves into the local infrastructure: school registration, utility bills, library cards. All important, and necessary checklist items for getting everyday life up and running efficiently.

What feels more important to me, though, is the less tangible accrual of local knowledge that I am compiling, starting more or less from zero, and which I need to make me know that this is a place I am going to live. How to navigate the VRE/Metro journey that will allow me to get into DC without driving. Which of the local supermarket chains I am most likely to shop at regularly. If the ice-cream shop in our new town is a worthy local stand-in for the best ice-cream shop of all (last night's first visit was a promising start). Where our local post office is.

We've also had the chance to catch up with lots of friends and family already, and there's plenty more on the schedule; DC is definitely more of a destination for my personal network than Canberra, as well as being much closer to where lots of my key people are based. All of that helps me feel as though I'm re-integrating pieces of my life which have felt fragmented for a very long time.

We're still somewhat in limbo: our household goods are making their way across the Pacific Ocean, and our new house is in the throes of renovation. We've probably got another month before any of that changes. So we're not fully transplanted yet. But I feel like I'm starting to settle in, and to look around for where to put a root or two.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Farewell Australia

Sunrise over Mt Ainslie, June 2018

The time has come - after a hectic six weeks three months we are sitting in the airport waiting for our first flight on our last Great Trek north from Australia. (We're heading back to the US via a 10-day holiday in Italy, so updates from there as WiFi permits.)

It's hard to realise that we've been here for six years this time around - the longest we have lived anywhere since DP and I began our international roving twenty (gulp!) years ago. The process of wrapping up our life here and saying our farewells has been an emotional roller coaster at times, especially over the past week. But in spite of saying goodbye to many people and places that we love, I don't think any of us has any doubt or hesitation that this next move is the best thing for all of us. When we left in late 2009, I didn't feel like we had fully finished our Australian chapter; this time around I've given away all my UK/AU cooking appliances, which is about as significant a gesture as I  can think of to indicate my intentions.

So long, Australia. It's been good to know you.

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