Ta da! Here I am . . . the last to show up at the party! Heather and Liz have already started posting, whilst (England is rubbing off on me already) Iâ€™ve been conspicuous by my absence. In fact, the only reason that youâ€™re getting this little missive from me at all is because I happily remembered to grab my laptop before we ran out on some errands, and Iâ€™m typing in the car. (Iâ€™m not the one driving by the way. You can feel safe in the knowledge that I would never attempt to type and drive on the left at the same time. On the right however . . . . well thatâ€™s another story. ) If I can manage to snaffle a passing wireless network as we cruise along then this might actually get posted.
Weâ€™ve just moved into our house, and Iâ€™ve been unpacking for the last few days. I should add that â€œunpackingâ€ here is being used in a very loose sense . . . . we arrived at an unfurnished house with only what we could carry with us on the airplane. Of course, with seven peopleâ€™s maxed-out limit of luggage, that actually amounted to a mountain of stuff which, when piled up together in the airport, was so enormous that you half expected to see King Kong standing at the top, swatting at bi-planes. But divide that pile by seven people, and then spread that through an entire house, and it turns out to be not quite as massive as it seemed at first. What Iâ€™m trying to say is that when I speak of unpacking my kitchen, that basically amounts to one pot, one spatula, one wire whisk, and a set of drop-dead gorgeous dishes that I couldnâ€™t bear to leave behind. Not a real unpacking challenge if you see what I mean. The clothes however . . . . thatâ€™s a different story. This is one of those houses that has no closets whatsoever, and even if it did, we donâ€™t have any hangers yet, and since we donâ€™t have a single stick of furniture either, this presents a dilemma when it comes time to put away the clothes. Weâ€™re in makeshift central at the moment, living out of suitcases obviously . . . and trying to solve the question of the beds.
After one night sleeping on the floor, Ben and I realized that a mattress had to be priority number one â€“ lest I lose my sanctification and my back alignment in one fell swoop. So an entire day was spent slugging it out through all of the least charming parts of the great city of Oxford, looking for a mattress â€“ any mattress – that we could take home the same day. But no. We were asking too much of these sleep shop specialists. Every mattress in every place was an eight-day wait. Correction: Every mattress less than $1,200 was an eight-day wait. If we opted for the expensive version, then we were looking at a two-day wait. And even two days looks an eternity when youâ€™re eyeball to eyeball with a raspberry colored carpet that may or may not have been properly cleaned ,and youâ€™re using a rolled up something or other pulled from a suitcase as a pillow. When we told our friend at the sleep shop that we really needed something that we could Take Home Today, he took us over to a mattress that comes to the customer shrink wrapped and rolled up in a tube. No â€“ I didnâ€™t think it a very promising start either â€“ especially as this particular wonder-mattress was also $400. But since that was the absolute rock-bottom cheapest thing weâ€™d seen all day, and since we were sick of looking at mattresses, and since we could actually fit this sucker in the car and take it home with us, thatâ€™s the one we purchased. We got it home and cut off the shrink wrap and over the next few hours it slowly expanded to become what is now a double-bed-sized piece of foam. Sort of like those magic washcloths . . . . but thankfully we didnâ€™t have to add water to the mattress. But man oh man, am I living it up now that I have a cozy piece of foam to sleep on. Life is definitely looking up. Now that I have an actual coffee pot and a piece of foam (which I cleverly set atop a flotilla of Rubbermaid bins to get it just that much further away from the raspberry carpet) I am able to face the problems ahead with all the intrepid spirit of a Pioneer. Well okay, maybe that should be the intrepid spirit of a modern American who thinks that life is tough when you canâ€™t get the internet for a week and the phone wonâ€™t work for some reason and you have to sit on the floor for meals.
The kids incidentally are living it up. Ben and I werenâ€™t actually being selfish to get ourselves a mattress first. On the contrary, we had very selflessly given all the cushions that we borrowed from our friends to the kids for them to sleep on â€“ thatâ€™s why the two of us were on the blank floor the first night. But a big empty room with cushions on the floor to sleep on is definitely the kidsâ€™ idea of heaven. Plush, cozy, and you donâ€™t have to make your beds in the morning.
Our house is fantastic. Charming, stone English farmhouse on a working farm with exposed beam ceilings and huge paddocks (complete with stream) for the kids to play in . . . . and so close to Oxford that Ben can walk to class if he wants. Our house even has a name â€“ thereâ€™s a plaque on the side of the house (where we Americans would put a number) that says Lower Farm House and has a cow on it. And speaking of cows, the landlord told us that he was going to have to put a grill over the living room window sill as the cows come and chew on it when theyâ€™re in that pasture.
So now that Iâ€™ve given the world at large a blow-by-blow of the doings in the Lower Farm House, Iâ€™m going to sign off.
Hey nonny nonny and a hot cha-cha!