“November came down…”

november

“November came down, skies like dark slate, winds bitter.” — John Jakes.

More sky drama.

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The sky is a drama queen.

Dear Wednesday,

It looks like fall is finally peeking around the corner and cooling things down here. All last week, it was unseasonably warm, which I should say, isn’t really all that bad here compared to back east. The sun is strong, yes, and you feel the heat if you’re not in the shade, but it’s a dry heat, which is far more comfortable than those 90% humidity kind of late summer days you get back by you. Here, if it’s hot, you just stay in the shade, or go up higher into the mountains where it’s cooler. And no matter how hot the day, once the sun goes down, the breeze picks up and things cool down considerably.

The one thing this new house doesn’t have is central air conditioning, which would be a deal breaker back east, but here, it’s manageable. We keep the shades drawn against the sun during the day, and then open the windows to sleep. The house cools down over night with only a few fans running in the windows. The other night, we could hear coyotes howling somewhere close in the hills, through said open windows. It added an little extra chill to the evening, you might say. On Sunday morning, I saw a lone one trotting through a field on my way home from dropping E. at choir practice. Pretty wild.

But still, once you get to the end of September, it’s hard not to be impatient with the heat, so I was glad to see that the forecast was going to shift into cooler 60-degree days. Of course, to make that happen, we had to have one hell of a thunderstorm, which finally arrived on Monday afternoon just as I was driving to pick up the girls from Conservatory. Within ten minutes most of the streets downtown were flooded, and visibility was practically nil. Ugh. I made it, though, and the rain let up long enough for us to make the 20 or so miles up the highway to home. We saw quite a few nasty accidents in the clean up stage, including one flipped VW bug, which upset A. to no end. Once we got home, the sky opened up again, and dumped another ocean down onto us, but we were safe home by then, and once that storm blew away, the air was cool and crisping and finally it felt like fall. The cool weather has held all week, and it feels damned good.

Speaking of the sky, I have to say that around here, she’s one hell of a drama queen. Today, we stayed home and got a good chunk of school work done. Around mid-afternoon I drove down to the store for meatloaf fixin’s, and when I finished my shopping and came out to my car, the sky looked like this:

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The darkest part is, of course, pretty much exactly where my house is. I was only in the store 15 minutes. 20 tops. And when I went in, the day was bright and clear. I guess she felt like no one was paying enough attention to her, because for the rest of the afternoon, she was all dark and moody-like.

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I snapped a few pictures when I could as I drove home.

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This one is my favorite, I think:

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And the funny thing is, in the end, it never even rained. The clouds eventually just blew through and away and now the sun is out again, and the air is still cool. I guess the sky just needed someone to notice her.

She’s such a drama queen, isn’t she?

Well, look at that. I got all the way through this post without moaning about how homesick I am. But you know that I still miss you terribly.

Love,
RegularMom

I keep coming back to that, still.

Dear Wednesday,

I’ve been quieter than usual lately, and I’m sorry about that. I know I promised you I’d keep you updated, and this past month I’ve done a terrible job at it. I have no excuses, except for that whole we-just-moved-back-across-the-country thing, I suppose. I can milk that a little longer can’t I?ūüėČ

We’re doing okay. Not great, but okay. I would have written you last week, but it was the first week of theater classes back by you, and I knew the girls would be feeling more homesick than usual, so I downplayed the day. Not that it helped much. As soon as they were done with their school work, they got on their gadgets and checked their messages and heard how you were all there together starting another¬†great year of theater, and here we are, so far away from you and all the excitement…. By the end of the day, A. slipped into a bout of anger that I really couldn’t blame her for. Hell, I get it. I’m pissed too. But I’m The Mom, and I Set The Tone, so I kept my face and voice neutral and talked about all the good things we’re doing here (but it’s still okay to feel the way you’re feeling, and it’ll pass and everything is gonna be okay, and blah blah frickety blah blah BLAH!), because that’s all I know how to do.

She’ll be all right. We all will be. It just takes time, and it’s only been a few months.

We’re a month into our new school year, and the routine of it helps immensely. Our days have grown busy, especially now that all of the girls’ activities have kicked in. They are doing two drama classes a week, plus voice, piano and dance lessons at the Conservatory downtown one afternoon a week, plus the one full day out at the homeschool academy where they get art and music classes plus a smattering of other classes where they can have group discussions about history and books and such, not to mention the incredibly affordable archery classes we stumbled upon, and suddenly this year has just turned into this perfect blend of time at home working with me and time away from home. I couldn’t ask for a better set up.

Except for the fact that it’s two thousand miles away from you, that is.

I keep coming back to that, still. And it’s damned depressing. I can’t think about it too long or I’ll collapse into a fit of tears and misery, which would not jive well at all with my whole Setting The Tone Theme Song… c’mon, sing it with me: Everything’s Gonna Be Okay. Tra La La La La La……

So instead, I do the things that need doing. Like dishes. And laundry. I’m still mired down in those two chores. Some things never change, I guess. But I will say that we have the most cheerful washer and dryer set I’ve ever seen. It blips and beeps more gently than an elevator in a five-star hotel. When the cycles are finished, it plays these little tunes that sound like something you’d hear in church. It’s much more relaxing than the infernal loud buzzing sounds I had with my old set. Also: the washer on my old set was pretty much starting to die on me. Sometimes, it wouldn’t drain the water. It would just finish the whole cycle with all the icky water in it, and then BUZZ at me, like it was PRETENDING to have washed my clothes, like it was MESSING WITH ME. I’d hear that buzz and head down to the basement and open the lid and there the clothes would be: still soaking in that gray water. Bastard. It probably wasn’t serious. Probably something was just blocking the drain hose or whatever. That’s what RegularDad said, and he was probably right, because all I had to do was wait 24 hours and start the thing up again and it would work just fine.

Yeah… see… there’s something I don’t miss.

So, now I have this new house and all this new stuff in it, and believe me, I like it far better than the old beat up place we had. I have enough room for our things now, and the kids have a huge¬†basement to hang out in, and everything is finished and beautiful and properly furnished, and for the first time in 8 years, I don’t feel CRAMPED no matter where I go in my own house. When we had our first cold night last week or so with that little dusting of snow, we turned on all the fireplaces just because we could, and it was damned cozy in here.

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So, I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

I’m also writing again, which is good. I’ve decided to¬†take advantage of these unexpected free hours I find myself with to focus more on my own writing rather than offering to teach a slew of classes or volunteer for some committee or other, or what have you. This is the year when I will master the Art of Saying No. Suddenly I’ve got a whole day and a half to myself! Can you imagine? On Mondays I write for about three hours at the library. Alone. On Thursdays, I grocery shop and run errands, and still get a little writing done. ¬†I don’t talk to anyone for hours at a time. Not even the dog. It’s unbelievably soothing.

So, even though this post is somewhat depressing, you mustn’t worry about us. Really, in the grand scheme of things, I guess I’d have to say we’re actually doing better than “just okay”. The girls are healthy and busy, and they’re making friends in their own particular ways. When I pick them up from the Conservatory or the academy and ask them how their day went, A. says something like, “I made a new friend, I think,” and then E. promptly says, “I got everyone’s phone number today!” Which is so utterly, gorgeously THEM that I can’t help but feel good inside, and relieved that they’re still them. Homesick as they are, displaced and lonely and sick of each other as they are, even when they get those far away looks in their eyes, the looks that say whoa… this isn’t what I had planned at all!

They’re still them.

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Love,
RegularMom

Trying something new.

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Both girls have been itching to try archery for quite a while now,  and serendipitously enough, some of our new friends clued us in to a school not too far away, and very reasonably-priced.  Another bonus: the family who runs the school home schooled all their kids.

Best and most interesting of all: both girls say that this is an incredibly relaxing sport.

How we ended our summer vacation.

Not that it’s been much of a vacation, mind you, what with all this moving back across the country and all the difficult moments entailed therein. But all summer seasons do eventually draw to a close (some sooner than others), and here in Colorado, most schools have either already started or will start tomorrow, so we will do the same.

Today, by luck of the draw, we spent our last day of official summer vacation up in Denver at Coors Field, taking in a baseball game. RegularDad’s company hosted a bit of a party for all of us relocated folks, and sprung not just for the tickets, but for a nice lunch before game time. So, we drove up nice and early, and oddly enough, we ended up parking in the same parking deck I used to park in when I worked in downtown Denver many, many years ago, when I was younger, newly married, and RegularDad wasn’t even in the satellite business yet. It was a little bit freaky to tell the girls, “yep, I used to park right here and walk on in that building there. Every day.”

Everything looked exactly the same, and I knew exactly how to get to Coors Field, so I led the way. It wasn’t too hard. You just had to follow all the people wearing purple. Large crowds were already heading toward the field, which we thought was strange, since we were going a couple of hours early for a lunch. Even with the short walk to the stadium, we ended up standing in a long, long line to get inside.

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“Don’t tell me ALL these people were relocated!” I said to RegularDad.

“No,” he said, “but I think they’re retiring someone’s jersey today, and they’re giving away shirts or something, so I bet a lot of people are trying to get here early to get one.”

(It turned out to be Todd Helton’s jersey: No. 17. It was a lovely ceremony, and the unexpected thunderstorm held off until after it was all done.)

So we waited in line, patiently, the sun beating down on us…

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and eventually we shuffled far enough inside that we were in the shade where it was still hot but much more comfortable. You remember quite quickly how strong the sun can be up here a mile closer to it. Ugh. Hats, shades and sunscreen are a must. After about ten more minutes of just shuffling along in a crowd that reminded me of trying to get through Times Square on the day they were lighting the Christmas tree, we got up to where they were giving out the freebies. They weren’t shirts; they were Todd Helton bobble-heads.

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We’ve got four of these bad boys now. I have no idea what we’ll DO with them, but we’ve got ’em. I’m not quite sure what he’s dressed up as: Robin Hood? A park ranger? Maybe he’s just gone fishin’? But there he is in all his bobble-headed glory.

The lunch that RegularDad’s company hosted for us was just your basic baseball food: burgers and hotdogs, with chips and watermelon. And drinks of course. We stuck mostly to water, considering how hot it was, and we were glad to have gotten seats in the shade. We ate and chatted with some of the people we knew from Pennsylvania. It’s so weird to see all these people out here instead of back east. We went to a house warming party for one of RegularDad’s friends the night before, and at one point, we were all sitting around this guy’s kitchen table, swapping horror stories of Dealing With The Relocation People, and How Many Days Was YOUR Stuff Delayed, and all that, and then we got kinda quiet for a minute, just looking around at each other, like, “Jesus, how’d we all end up out here together???”

But after we’d all eaten, the Big Bosses got up and gave very nice (and mercifully short) speeches, thanking all of us for making the move out, and I have to say, it was nice to hear them actually say it, because, Oh My Freekin’ GAWD, it’s been a hell of a difficult summer. To hear them all say, Thanks, we know this is hard, but here: have a day at Coors Field on us, and welcome to Colorado. By the way, the pizza is just awful and there’s no scrapple to be had anywhere, but hey, thanks for coming.¬†

Yeah, it helped at bit.

After the speeches, we went back up into the stands and found our seats, and they were actually pretty damn good. We watched the ceremony retiring No. 17, and then the game started up, and maybe ten minutes after the first pitch, we all had to run for cover because the Zero Percent chance of rain for the day turned into a deluge complete with dangerous lightning. But that’s okay, because ten minutes after that the sun came back out and we grabbed a stack of napkins from a concession stand to dry off our seats and went back to watch the game a while.

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A few innings in, my 11-year-old said, to no one in particular, “This is cool. I mean, moving sucks and all, but this… this right here… is pretty darn cool.”

And it was.

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Thus ends our summer vacation that wasn’t much of a vacation at all. Not a bad way to close it out, I’d say.

Settling in, venturing out.

So, we’re settling in. Just about everything is out of the boxes, and in the proper rooms. Not organized, mind you. No. Just out of the boxes and onto a shelf or into a cabinet in all the usual disorganized jumble. I can almost find everything. Except for the power cords for my main computer with all my photo editing and graphics software. That stuff is floating around somewhere, so I’m still using my laptop for everything, which is fine until I want to blog something and realize I don’t have any decent photo editing software available to me yet. sigh….

In the midst of all this unpacking and settling in, I’ve also been busy getting ready for our new school year. All the public schools start in the middle of August here, and the girls have been itching to start school ever since the beginning of August, which is very unusual for us. We like our summers off. And we liked starting after Labor Day. August was all about chillin’ by the pool with our friends, and rainy afternoons at the movies and getting ice cream afterwards, and maybe the occasional trip to Hershey Park or down the shore for the day. Not for pining to open up those math books. I suspect the girls just want the routine of it all: days that are full of books and errands and activities. Too much free time can drive one mad when you’re displaced from everything familiar.

So, we’re starting on Monday, just like our district is. I’m almost ready. Or, I should say, just ready enough. We’ll get the basics rolling, and take it from there.

And our year promises to be quite busy, actually, because yes, we’ve been venturing out. We’ve met some new friends, and they’re good people, and even though they’re all still strangers to us, I know from experience that the day will come when that strangeness goes away, and we’ll feel like maybe we understand why we came back. My calendar is already gorgeously full of fun things to do, and this year we’ve signed up for one of these new-fangled homeschool academies that have sprung up out of the blue in the 8 years or so we’ve been away from Colorado. We went on down to register for it on Thursday, and after talking in more detail with the nice lady who runs the office there, it sounds like a really interesting program, one that offers theater arts and a variety of other arts type classes for my oh-so-artsy daughters. I couldn’t ask for a better replacement to the theater arts program we had in Pennsylvania. I addition to this part time academy, we’ve found a nice, affordable archery school where the girls can take archery classes with quite a few of their new friends.

And on top of all that, there are any number of skate days, park days, parties and laser tag afternoons to choose from. Already, I find myself having to scale back on the things we say yes to, so that our school work will get done. So yes, we’re settling in and venturing out. But every time we come home again to this new bigger house, we sit down and look around at everything and each other, and sometimes we’ll actually say it out loud: yes, this is good and fun and nice.

But it’s not the same.¬†

 


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