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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays

  • It's Chanukah
  • It's the Solstice
  • My mother's birthday would have been on the 22nd of December
  • Christmas is nearly here. 

So many special days all bunched up together.  It can be overwhelming, or giddily exciting depending on your point of view.  Whatever you celebrate, may you find joy and peace. Remember those who are no longer with us, and cherish the ones who are.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is this table supposed to be in two parts?

"Is this table supposed to be in two parts?" is on my list of phrases I never want to hear again.  A week ago we took delivery of the items that were in storage in Connecticut, some of which had a rather complicated and circuitous route to our door.  It all started back in 1997 when we moved to London. We were packed up by one of those high class professional international moving companies.  The type who insist on custom built wooden  crates for valuable, easily damaged items, plus reams of industrial strength wrapping material and special bumpers on the corners of the furniture. Our small electrical appliances, lights, power tools, D.'s ham radio gear and stereo equipment was to go into storage because it wouldn't work in the UK. That was the theory at any rate. A few boxes wound up on the wrong side of the pond and we dutifully dragged them around with us each time we moved. When it looked as if we were going to be in the UK for more than a couple years, we had the items in storage shipped up to Vermont, where D.'s parents had space in their barn.  Sadly, over the years, both his parents died, and we subsequently inherited family heirlooms, antique clocks, pictures and childhood mementos. These were packed up and shipped down to Connecticut along with the electrical items that had never been unpacked, to be stored for another six years.  No wonder we weren't quite sure what to expect when it arived. 

Luckily we had the foresight to hire the man who had maintained the family's clock collection to prepare them for shipping.  Everything else looks as if it was just hurled onto the truck.  A large photograph of D.'s mother was shoved unprotected in a box with a heavy lamp base (resulting in the inevitable broken glass), a pewter tea set (badly dented) was underneath the crock pot, the list of absurdities goes on. One particularly large piece of furniture has a broken leg, and yes, a butcher block table was delivered in halves. D. said I was very brave when faced with the destruction. But I think I was just in shock. 

There were unexpected surprises like seven mismatched chairs, and a hand-quilted wreath made by an aunt (just in time for the holiday season). We are missing one lampshade (the other was damaged beyond repair), several crucial power supplies, and possibly a toaster oven. Yet, through some sleight of hand with the various packing lists they claim to have delivered everything (something very fishy was going on with box numbers, and some things had been unpacked before they got here). 

What did we do after the delivery?  Went shopping for furniture.  Sounds ridiculous with a spare room piled waist deep in damaged furniture, but we still don't have a dresser. There was much excitement when we saw 'dresser' on the inventory, but it turned out to be a blanket chest.  With a big chunk knocked out of one corner.   Now we're waiting for various insurance companies to respond to our claims, before about half the furniture goes back out the door for repairs. At least we still have the view!


Monday, December 5, 2011


Warming up for our first performance

 I don't know why it is, but every year, I am surprised when December arrives. It's especially hard to understand how it sneaks up on me, considering Thanksgiving is followed by 'black Friday, when the rest of the country has a massive holiday shopping attack. Furthermore, I have been practicing with a carol singing group since early November. You'd think all this carrying on about virgins, blessed infants, and angels shouting 'hark!' would remind me of the impending season. So why did panic strike when I arrived for a rehearsal to be greeted with the spectacle of a Christmas tree occupying the corner were the alto section had once stood?

Make believe snow family in Florida
Christmas is the time of year when children are nearly exploding with anticipation. Adults too, look forward to the festive decorations, parties, gifts, special foods, music, and religious celebrations. I enjoy Christmas once it's here, but when the first of December rolls around I find myself groaning and wishing for another month to get everything done. Things are a little harder in a new town, when you don't know where things are.  Not having a car or even useful shops within easy walking distance means we have to be very selective about what we buy, when and where. We've already carried a few odd things home by bike (a printer, a long piece of weather stripping, a bag of potting soil). Not sure how we're going to obtain and transport a tree, or even wrapping paper. Or when for that matter.  I try not to think about the fact that there's less than three weeks to go!

Chief among the things we've been anticipating is a phone call from the driver of the van containing the various useful things like lamps, power supplies, etc. that were stored in Connecticut.  All they can tell us is that he will call about 24 hours before delivery.  We had a much more exact arrival date for the shipping container that had to cross an ocean and circumnavigate a continent. We're also anticipating the day when the furniture repair company will come to haul our damaged items off to their workshop. They say it will take three weeks to do the work,  so we're also anticipating Christmas without a sofa.

One thing we're both really looking forward to is that feeling of finally settling in.  That wonderful moment when all the pictures are up, the shelves arranged, the furniture in place, and we can finally invite people over for a housewarming party. I optimistically thought this would happen in November, but now if we're lucky, it might be closer to Chinese New Year. The tandem, however, is right at home in its cubbyhole under the stairs. Harry Potter never had it so good.