Several years ago, Dan took Spanish lessons. They did him absolutely no good! During our time in South America over the 2010 Christmas and New Year’s holidays he generally just had a blank look on his face when anyone said anything to him in Spanish. Lisa knows as much Spanish as Dan; does anyone really need to know how to say more than paella, chorizo, manchego, empanada, and vino tinto (nos gusta rioja y priorat)?
We also know ‘mi casa, es tu casa’. My house is your house. People have always been welcome in our house, and we let them feel at home, or more accurately made them feel like they were at home by making them get their own beer out of the fridge… We are great hosts, but maybe not great servers. After the first drink, you are on your own. But now, ‘nuestra casa es su casa’: our house is their house. Whoever ‘they’ (the buyers) are.
And it is beginning to feel like someone else’s house. Much of our day-to-day routine has been interrupted. The basement, where we spent a lot of time, is pretty empty. There’s a home gym that we don’t have time to use, and a stereo that would get used, except sitting on the floor listening to music seems odd. No big screen TV; no couch; no books…
The cats aren’t the only ones missing the barstools in the kitchen, either. Probably 98% of our meals were eaten there; many of you enjoyed wine and snacks from them, watching us cook, before moving on to the dining room for dinner. Now we actually have to use the dining room table for just the two of us. This completely messes up Dan’s morning routine because he times everything so precisely (to allow maximum sleep-in time); having to take 12 steps each way from the kitchen to the dining room (and figure out how to read the paper on a different table surface) now makes him late for work. Lisa’s happy, because dinners now resemble ‘real’ dining, and she can watch the grass grow (literally!) from the dining room window.
Not eating dinner at the kitchen island also means we don’t see much of the six o’clock news. We might see the start of it while cooking, but then can’t see the television from the dining room as we eat. And we also got rid of the bedroom television, where we often watched the 11 o’clock news and Lisa monitored morning news. So we are a bit out of touch…anything happened recently we should know about? Luckily, we did catch the election (yay NDP; boo Harper majority!). For everything else, ignorance is bliss. We are monitoring Wagga news online, of course (federal budget just came down!)… but it’s odd to feel disconnected from the pulse of our current nation.
The most painful sale of all was the barbecue! It was a hard decision. It was a great barbecue (Vermont Castings, stainless steel) and we took a bit of a financial hit selling it. But, the reality is, we don’t know where we are going to be living and whether our next home will have a natural gas hookup.
And with the Australian rules about what can be brought into the country, it would need a very, very good cleaning. All the charred food bits would have to be cleaned out, for sure. But the bigger issue would be spiders. When Dan was cleaning up other outdoor items to pack, he found lots of little spider hives (we have a lot of brown spiders in our back yard) and trying to clean the barbecue well enough to get them all would be a challenge. Australia has enough spiders; it doesn’t need any of ours. So, no barbie for us for now. And pretty much everyone who has dined at our house has had food from that grill or rotisserie. You name it, we’ve probably grilled it: asparagus, runner beans, squash, bacon, tomatoes, fennel, and all the ‘usual’ meaty fare. No kangaroo yet, but in a few months, it will happen. And we’ve grilled (Aussie lingo) in all weather: -35, snow, rain…many readers will remember scrambling to clear the table in the backyard as thunderstorms blew in while Dan (and Dinesh – yummy tandoori chicken!) cooked.
And that brings us to the yard. We love that yard. We designed it (truly!), nurtured it, and had a lot of fun meals with friends and family back there. But some of the first things we sold in the purge were the garden tools, so it is starting to look like hell. There is some major pruning to do, raking, weeding, etc… all the general spring clean-up that we would be so eager to do now that the weather is nice. Spring bulbs are flowering, our trees are budding, and the weather is warm.
Last weekend, Dan stood with the cats in the kitchen nook, staring back at the yard, wanting to garden. By the time we turn over the house to the new owners, it will be a disaster. Luckily, we aren’t around much to see it deteriorate, but in our last week we will probably do a ‘perp walk’ from the garage to the house, coats pulled over our faces, not so we can’t be identified but so we can’t see around us. And we’ll keep the blinds closed in the house.
As much as some of this hurts, we are looking forward to starting again in Wagga. A new barbie…no shrimp for Lisa, but we’ll get to experiment with ‘roo. Gardening will be better. The season will actually be long enough for things to grow! Our tomatoes in Edmonton froze on the vine most years, still green. We are going to live an outdoor life; the Aussies will probably think we are nuts…wearing shorts, cooking and dining outside, mid-winter…but when compared to Edmonton, it will be warm. A couple of days ago, Wagga’s museum tweeted to “rug up! it is freezing in Wagga today”. Rugging up, it seems, is the term for layering on warm clothes. Or getting a toupee… we’re not yet sure. But freezing? It was + 7 Celsius. Tropical for Canadians like us.
For the new people who bought our house, nuestra casa es su casa, we hope you enjoy the yard as much as we have (read – you better damn well take care of it!). For all our friends reading this, especially the Canadians who want to vacation where +7 is called freezing, when we finally arrive in Wagga and find a place to live, once again mi casa es tu casa. Come visit. We will be so happy to see you we might even serve you two drinks before you are on your own.