It is kind of weird, but with all the things we had to do to get the house organized, one of the first things we did was put up art. Anyone who knew our Edmonton house would remember that the walls were full, and we’ve been living here for more than a month staring at bare pale yellow walls. With boxes and packing material all over the place, furniture scattered around, we spent the first evening hanging pictures. In our rental contract, we agreed not to put any new holes in the walls. There are 19 hooks already there, so we had to use those… Since we had the crates open anyway to look at them, we hung the two Alex Janvier pieces and the Maureen Enns bear.
We also got to hang the two pieces by Nestor Gomes that we bought in January – these were still in the wrapping that the gallery in Buenos Aires did for bringing them home. Though we have owned them for 8 months, we haven’t actually seen them since we bought them.
There are some other things scattered around the house, in odd places (what were the people who hung things here thinking?). The rest of the art is stuffed in a closet in the spare bedroom.
Another priority was making sure the few electronic items we brought with us still worked. As soon as Craig and Bob left, Dan hopped in the car and drove to a local computer store to purchase some new power cords for our iMac and stereo equipment. Apple is smart enough to make everything dual voltage, and our amp and cd player are British, so have a voltage switch on the back. And yes, they arrived intact, and we now have something better than an ipod dock for music (and Lisa gets to take her ipod dock to her office!). The only thing still to do in that area is that Dan’s turntable has a strange power supply, and so he has to go to a specialty store (in a bigger city) that sells that brand to replace it.
Over the next couple of days, Dan was floundering around, putting things away, stuffing things in cupboards, trying his best to do a task he is horrible at: organizing. But he didn’t do too bad. The few books we kept are shelved, the CDs are shelved (though not in any order), furniture is in places that make sense, and the outdoor living area is set up. Our patio heater, unfortunately, doesn’t fit under the roof of the patio so we won’t be spending the evenings out there yet as it still gets down to single-digit temps at night. But soon, we will be spending a lot of time out there.
Lisa took on the job of organizing the clothes closets and dressers while Dan went to his Indian cooking class on the Thursday night. After living with a minimal wardrobe for the past few months, it is kind of weird to have so many clothes (and real hangers!) again. But the selection is nice – Dan, for instance, was getting tired of the one pair of shorts he had; we weren’t thinking that winter would be so warm or we would have packed more. Lisa is happy to be reunited with her collection of Fluevogs.
The kitchen is still a bit of a mess. We have a lot of gadgets, and figuring out where to put them is a challenge…not that there isn’t room, but it is time consuming to think about just what goes where. We are thrilled to have our pots and pans though, because the cheap ones we bought here were so crappy you couldn’t really control the temperature. So now we can cook somewhere besides the barbecue!
The really odd thing is when you realize how happy you are to see trivial things. Like a mortar and pestle……try grinding fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and cardamon to make a yoghurt-based paste to marinate a rack of lamb without one, and you’ll realize how much you need it (or an electric spice grinder, but we sold that to a friend before we moved).
Towels. A simple part of life, something we all have, but probably don’t pay much attention to. We brought one tea towel and one dish cloth with us, but quickly realized that we couldn’t make it from one laundry day to the next without a second one. So we bought two tea towels, but one just seemed to spread blue lint around, so was useless. But still, they weren’t enough. And we didn’t bring any bath or hand towels; we bought some here, because they are a bit bulky, but one bath sheet and one hand towel each aren’t really enough. Sure, you can make it through a week, but what do you do when you need to wash your hands and your only set of towels are in the dryer? (Quick answer: wipe them on your jeans, same as you do in many Australian rural public washrooms. But that is another whole post!).
A broom. It wasn’t something we wanted two of, and since ours was on the ship, we didn’t buy one. But do you know how much crap lands on your floor every day ? Exactly enough to be annoying, but not enough to want to pull out the vacuum. That’s why someone invented brooms. We did buy a small dustpan but that’s not good for cleaning large areas.
But, after all the shit we’ve been through, planning how to get here, wondering where our stuff was, how much of it would be intact/broken, how long would quarantine hold it, etc., we now have a house full of stuff. And, more importantly, and after a lot more anxiety, we have our cats safe and somewhat well adjusted (stay tuned for a settling in: the kitteh edition post). And we have each other. And together we are making friends and we are learning about Wagga, the Riverina, NSW, and Australia, and making a new life.
After all the shit we’ve been through, we are finally settled. Up until now, when someone, hearing our (lack of an) accent would say “where ya from, mate?”, we would probably respond “we’ve just moved here, but we’re from Canada.” Now, we might just say “Wagga.”
After all this shit, we are finally starting to feel like this is home. Sure, it will never be ‘home’ as in where we come from, where our family is, etc., but we haven’t had that kind of a home since we left Ontario many years go. Now, this is where our life is.
This is home.
And, really, all the shit really hasn’t been that bad. So, for everyone reading this, when an opportunity arises, go for it! It might seem daunting, but in the end, life is too short to not try.