First Month In:  scraped knees, off the grid and coyotes howling.

I cannot say time flies right now; this first month after we moved in really has felt like a full month.

We knew that getting Internet and a land line would present a challenge in this hilly area. After a painful and thorough research, we concluded that Satellite Internet (slow as a donkey, reliable as the weather man and expensive as limes in California) was not what we wanted, which meant settling for DSL technology.

Considering I work from home, this issue was not something to take lightly. The one and only company that services this area is so slammed with orders and all sorts of problems after buying  a big part of Verizon’s telecommunications, that I’ve had to call them around 10 times to schedule, reschedule, confirm and reconfirm our service. Tomorrow is the big day of hooking us up. I am not getting my hopes up until I can actually see my laptop reaching out into the big WWW.

During this first month, I have made my place of work all of these: primarily my (very generous) cousin’s house, but also Mc Donald’s, Starbucks, the City Library, my son’s swim school, my daughter’s Dance studio. Wifi has never been as valuable as this last month. But I am tired of chasing the signals and can’t wait to actually sit at MY desk which has been empty – and very organized- since May 14th.

Being “off the grid” has also meant no Internet for the kids, no You Tube, no Animal Jam, no Xbox Live. As dramatic as it sounded at the beginning, the kids have gotten used to it.  We had the luck of having neighbors close; a family with a boy, my son’s age, who likes biking. So he has been biking up and down our road, more than he has biked during the last 3 years. He has scrapped his knees more than once but has kept at it. He and his newfound friend have discovered a way to make their bikes sound like motorcycles by jamming a flattened water bottle between the frame and the tire. It is hilarious. Even my daughter has joined them in their biking adventures on several occasions. Needless to say, now she wants a bike that looks like a boys’ bike: all black.

I love watching them do things that they had stashed somewhere in the back of their minds: crafts, drawing and even reading.  Of course, every now and then we get the “I am bored”, so they are obligated to get creative or just go watch TV…that, we do have.

Me?  Not having messages constantly coming in from the half a dozen groups I am in, or email from 4 different accounts is actually de-stressing. I don’t find myself checking my phone or checking facts on google when I am in doubt about…anything, you name it. Every time the kids question me about something I am not 100% sure about, I just say:  “ I don’t know”, end of story. And if I do know, there is no chance of my son second guessing me and checking Google to check my facts: sweet.

Another effect of being off the grid: a little bit more conversation. More deep conversation: the last chat I had with my 11 year old son, he asked me…”Mom, you know how there are couples with 2 men, or 2 women? So, how do they make babies?”

After a very clear, age appropriate answer about Sperm banks and surrogate moms, he said, “oh, ok. I wonder how high my cholesterol is…”

Just like that he ended the subject and as easy as eating pie he started with the subject of his own health. So, yes, different conversations for sure. It probably has to do with his age. This business with the tweens and Middle school, I don’t know. It scares me!

The noises in and around the house have also changed quite a bit. We no longer get speeding cars right on our street or street racing at night like before. Or neighbors partying hard just yards away.

The mornings are exceptionally quiet and serene, the air around us feels crisp and chill. I have heard birds that I have never heard before, making sounds I wouldn’t imagine a bird can do. I heard the sound of squirrels too. The sounds I am not crazy about at night: packs of coyotes all over, near and far, always moving. Very distinct, is the howling of the leader, who clearly has a dominant sound. I know we will all get used to it.

On another note, I am actually getting comfortable in the kitchen. After many frustrating moments and several pages on a variety of manuals, I now know how to use the temperature probe in the oven, and I have almost accomplished the level of not burning the scrambled eggs on our cook top. Apparently the BTU’s do matter. Sometimes I feel like my heat resistant spoons are going to melt! Everything with measure, they say.

Even though we are going through the worst heat wave ever since we moved here (117 F today), the rest of the time has been extremely pleasant during the day and chilly at night. Consistently around 5 degrees cooler than down in the valley, where the City is.  So, I still have not been able to put away all my sweaters and light coats; they are hanging right next to my summer clothes. But I have resigned to the fact that it is the way it is in most of California: flip flops during the day, and sometimes boots at night.

One month in and less than 5 boxes left unpacked: not bad at all. We are missing several sets of furniture, which makes the house fells pretty spacious. As we start getting couches and tables, the house will feel fuller and cozier I hope.  Hanging art and photos should help too.

The first week here I was reminded of when we moved into our last home. My dad flew in to help us clean up, unpack and arrange what we had then. I remembered perfectly how we arranged plates, cups, cleaning supplies. He helped scrub floors and toilets, and the countertops too. I was (and still am) very grateful for his help and his company as well.

The day I arranged my plates, cups and containers here, I found myself a bit teary eyed remembering those days. I felt pretty lonely that morning. The kids were in school, my husband at work, and there I was, one of the most exciting weeks of my life, having reached a milestone to remember for many years to come, but all by myself this one time. I missed my Dad very much that day.

Our guest bathroom was designed in every sense to accommodate my wheelchair bound mom. Spacious with a roll in shower and safety grab bars; looking at it made me miss her too. I can’t wait to have her here.

Two weeks after we moved in, my husband mustered up the energy and resolve to install a sound system in the house, which he had previously wired the house for. This was my Christmas present that I had only enjoyed by looking at the half a dozen boxes in the garage.

Ten speakers or so where installed in the ceilings of different rooms, a controller for each room and the central brains of the system were all put in place in 2 days. The evening he tested it out, he used my Ipod (since we don’t have Internet to stream music online), so the songs were all mine.

My husband knows that music is one of my passions, my mood changes dramatically when I have music in the house or in my car. Music takes me places, it makes my brain work in a different way; it’s hard to explain. But I feel empty and lacking when I don’t have music with me. I have noticed that our days start better when I play the right music for the kids while cooking and eating breakfast.

Because my kids are not old enough to buy their own music yet, they have had to listen to mine (and my husbands’). So it is not surprising that my daughter has come to love Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, A-ha, Abba, and Dance/Electronic Music too. She loves dancing, so Music is a big part of her too. At the same time, both the kids have gotten used to Neil Diamond, which our parents used to listen to, so we both like as well. It is like a generational musical transcendence. And I love it.

In our old home, I used to have a Blue Tooth Bose Speaker he gave me as a present, and I would carry it around or play it loud so I could hear it everywhere.  So when he told me about this Christmas present, in times where things where already tight with the construction going on, I was tremendously grateful.

So back to the day he tested the new system, I was getting dressed in my closet, where there is a speaker. Suddenly I heard a piece from the Classical Ballet Coppelia, by Leo Delibes.  I heard the whole piece as I got dressed, then I just had to sit down on the edge of the tub and take it all in.

My first time at a Professional Ballet performance was at age 7. My Dad, lover of Classical and Opera took me one night, and this is the Ballet we saw: Coppelia. I was mesmerized by the graceful movements of the tiny ballerinas, the intensity of the live orchestra, the costumes, the beauty of it all.

So sitting there at the edge of my tub, I started crying uncontrollably. I was happy, extremely happy and overwhelmed.

I realized my husband had gone through back breaking work (climbing into the attic more than twice to find lost cable ends), covered in fiberglass, all itchy and sweaty, just to give me the joy of music.

To top it off, he tested the system with music that takes me back to 1978, that night at the theatre with my Dad.

I came out of the bathroom sobbing of joy. He found me in the hallway walking towards him and gave me a worried and puzzled look.

I hugged him tight and thanked him for all his work. Like the ABBA song says “Thank you for the music…”

Life has been good to me so far, extremely good. Some things we worked for, some we deserve, somethings are pure luck. All together I am grateful and very appreciative of the many joys I have today: my health, my precious family (immediate and extended!) and –always- the music.

More to come…hopefully form my home’s Internet!









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