* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Care Packages

My mother likes to send care packages about once a month.  The list of things that she can send for the children is endless but she is desperate for something she can send to Allen and me.  The children want fairly simple things like band aids with characters they recognize, special paper napkins to put in their lunch (all I can find are the standard sort), and clothing that is theoretically available in Dublin but difficult for me to access with travel and knowledge restrictions.  Allen and I are mostly embracing that this is a year of NEW.  This is our one chance to easily access sticky toffee pudding, freshly baked soda bread, and slightly odd yogurts.  A care package is really intended to be a little slice of home; of what you miss but the thing is that what I miss isn't easy to package up.

I miss knowing the things you don't even think about; knowing how to write the date- here it is d/m/y; knowing where to go to buy pretty much anything; knowing if I take Noah to the doctor or the chemist for his diaper rash; knowing which is the dime and which is the penny and which is, in fact, 2 euros.

I miss the appliances that make my housewifely role so much simpler- my rice cooker, stand mixer, slow cooker, salad spinner, and an oven with a reasonably accurate thermometer; 

Today was 8 C (45F) with pouring rain and wind.  By the time I had made the 20 minute walk to get Noah, 15 to get the big kids and then another 15 minute walk to get us all home, it was clear that I really should have invested in a fisherman's slicker when I got those rain boots.  On days like this, I miss my car even though preschool pickup becomes a Darwinian masterpiece and a bubble bath would have been heaven.

We can't figure out why the house is always cold.  I finally bought a thermometer so we could be more systematic about turning on the heat only to discover that the house feels cold when it is 70 degrees.  The only thing we can figure is that it has something to do with the damp.  I searched google for insight since my only real experience with humidity is with the opposite problem to find that there is little scientific consensus on the issue of damp cold.  The best I could find was here and even then it is muddled.  With my decidedly limited science background (I ran into the welcoming bosom of the social sciences as soon as they would have me), I have come down in the heat transfer camp i.e. water transfers heat more efficiently than air and so it's like the air is sweating for you which is really less than helpful when that wasn't really what your body wanted.

I miss the familiar and the cultural knowledge.  I'm forever having to ask about how various holidays are celebrated and how things are taught.  The constant translation from Irish to English which seems so innocuous until you read the school supplies list.

I miss streets laid out in a grid or something approaching it.  I miss street signs and well marked anything.

I miss take-out that isn't breaded and fried.  I got a vegetarian gyro in an attempt to skip the breaded and fried only to get what I think was fried breading.

I miss the diversity you find in the US.  I hadn't really realized how varied we are until coming here.  Most of the population looks vaguely similar in a way you don't find in the US.  For a while I thought I must be exaggerating or mistaken but every time I would look around and think, "Oh, there's a difference in hair; style; coloring; anything," I would then realize that the person was speaking a foreign language.  Other cultures are most certainly represented but you don't see that complete mish mash that you find in America.  The on-line grocery store has the doritos classified as Mexican food.

I kept finding it odd to see military trucks wandering through what is very much a residential neighborhood.  We aren't terribly near any bases although a UNIT (which I always thought was made up by the Dr. Who writers) training base is the next county over.  But then Allen pointed out that the country is roughly the same size as West Virginia.  If you are going to support and train a reasonably sized force there just aren't that many places for them to go.

I mostly really enjoy this opportunity to try all manner of new things but I do miss things, just not things that can be sent in a box.  Sorry, mom.

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