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July 12, 2002
Settling in (...and digging out) (Gail)

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Poring over a year's worth of mail

The world is an amazing, beautiful place. I am so glad, and still amazed that we made this trip, had this grand adventure. But it is true, East or West home is best.

We are home and have been in one place longer than any other since Italy (March). Our homecoming was wonderful, greeted by family at the train station, coming into our home, walking through my garden. In many ways it was a sensory overload. More personal space, more family and of course more stuff than we have seen in an entire year. We wandered (some of us ran) around looking at everything amazed at what we saw (our grape vines are producing for the first time, this really excited us). After admiring the grandbaby photos placed strategically around the house and commenting on just how good everything looked we settled in to the reality of being home. The reality was (and still is) that we have only vague ideas of where things are.

I couldn't recall where we had left the sheets so initially we settled for the sheets covering the furniture (yuck). Luckily, just prior to bedtime I recalled they were in the cedar trunk and we had clean if mismatched sheets to sleep on. My pillow that went all the way 'round with me was finally back on its own bed. Towels were another matter, altogether. We were able to scrounge up two for that night but it took two days before it occurred to me to open the cabinet in the master bathroom. Yep stuffed full of clean towels.

And the master bathroom was just as we had left it, a big mess with stuff piled everywhere. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me that the toilet had dried out and the shower stall had a couple of resident spiders. When I turned on the master bath shower the showerhead sprayed everywhere except the stall, guess we need a new one. I still haven't fully cleaned out that room it's just too daunting, but the spiders have left (I do not want to think about where they have gone).

No silverware for our first meal? No problem. Just open up the kitchen suitcase; it served us very well around Europe and now it was saving our meals in our own home. It took a day to find where I had put the plates but I knew just where the glasses were (well most of them anyway). I'm unpacking the pots and pans as I need them. Locating things is like a treasure hunt. We have had a few exchanges like "Where is the __?" "It's in the upstairs closet". "No, there is nothing in the closets". "Uuuhh". And now that we are going through all this stuff, "Do we need this anymore?" is a frequently asked question.

To ease our return Russell's sister had made sure we had some basic foods and that saved us the first few days. Going into the supermarket was a bit overwhelming. There is so much stuff. Cameron was amazed at the selection of plastic sandwich bags available. Zippers, blue and yellow lines, fold over tops, sandwich size, half sandwich size. And when did Disney and Kellogg's join together to make cereal? When did laundry soap start to have faucets (like boxed wines)? The fact that I could buy anything I wanted and actually be able to cook it was amazing to me. We are enjoying home cooking without restrictions again. Though we once again have to read every label looking for corn and soy. It was so nice not having to worry about Cameron's allergies this past year.

The boxes we sent home have hampered the task of reducing our possessions. We didn't buy many souvenirs but we did send home a lot of brochures, seashells, rocks, books, castoff clothing and small gifts. It took us three days to finally get ourselves organized enough to go through all the boxes. A wonderful way to relive the trip and it only took us a few hours! Reading the newspapers we used for padding also slowed us down a bit. To be honest much of it was taken from the boxes and placed in piles to be gone through so I guess we didn't make great headway. Two of our boxes sent from Scotland still have not turned up but every other box is here. Who knows if we will ever see those two and we have to just be okay if we don't.

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Going through our boxes (and reliving the trip)

This is also a great chance to get rid of the stuff we no longer need. Before we left we had a garage sale but still there is so much more to go through. Cameron and Joss both have outgrown most of what was left here. What they didn't outgrow they have gone through and kept only what they will wear. Before we left I thought I had reduced my clothing down as far as I could. Well I was wrong. Who really needs 20 t-shirts? It will be very freeing for me and once I can dig my way into my closet I will finish the task (perhaps in a week or two). We did find that Joss has been wearing something new everyday, just because he can. We keep finding discarded Joss shirts all over the house. We are working on it.

Cameron is in heaven. He has so many books to choose from and is going through them fast. We have to keep on him to go outside to play, not read in bed in the morning, the afternoon and the evening and not to stack books next to his bed. Joss is so happy to have his school friends to play with. Home schooling continues. The boys have been wonderful about this. Because we are not dragging them off somewhere everyday they can do their work and still have plenty of free playtime.

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Joss has food, Cameron has a book, and all's right with the world

Coming home after all this time is like moving into and out of our home at the same time. We unpack stuff while at the same time deciding what to keep and what to get rid of and then pack the "get rid ofs" back up. We keep finding forgotten treasures. Every cabinet and closet is empty and now is our chance to rearrange where things are put. This has confused the guys in the house who know where things used to be and still expect them to be there (sigh). I guess I will have to give in to the majority, besides I think I had it pretty well organized before.

There have been a few things that are hard to get past; like the desire to photograph every aspect of every day. Breaking the web letter habit will be a bit tough too. These things became such a normal part of our everyday lives. We can call people on the phone and see them in person. We don't need a map to get around. I know I still have moments when my mind doesn't get it that we are home. That we are staying here not moving on.

The very best thing about our homecoming was the realization that I still like my home. There have been changes in our town. In many ways we feel like newcomers here. But the people are the same. We look forward to getting back in touch with all of our friends and family. We still haven't printed off all those photos we took so right now it's safe to come see us.

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Gail cooking in her own kitchen -- back in familiar surroundings


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