Settling in

Coming back to our foreign home-away-from-home-but-really-more-like-home-sort-of has been good. There haven’t been any real shocks that I can think of. A major grocery chain went out of business but most of their locations have been taken over by one that was always cheaper. One major difference is that I have only taken a bus once, we haven’t even bought transit cards. Our new home is only on one bus line that doesn’t really take you anywhere we frequent (though it would be handy for quickly getting down or, more importantly, up the hill we’re on to the main street). I would walk a bit more, except that I injured my leg (much to the amusement of my teammates, who have told me, well, what’s new again?); thankfully it seems to be improving.

We found a home that meets our needs and many of our wants, even some of the really optional ones. For instance, it has a piano and fireplace, two things we’re very happy to have, but would never make our list of requirements. The house hunt was interesting, at first, we connected with a friend of a friend, who assigned us to one of his employees to show us some listings. We really wanted to see houses, with yards, but she was either unable or unwilling to really do that (I think they were not the right sort of company to be working with, they couldn’t arrange for us to see places that were listed by agents, rather than just the owners). I eventually just had to call the number on the listings and try to stumble through in Russian; however, I only had to do that once really – everybody else seemed to speak English, handy. Then we saw several houses, and when we found this one were able to decide for it on the spot. We second guessed ourselves all weekend after we signed the contract, but now that we’re settled in we really find it to be a good place.

It’s quite a different sort of arrangement than we had before, it’s probably an older add-on to an older home and our landlord and wife live downstairs above the garage. When I leave, I go out and down our stairs, through the garden to the road, and back into the garage to get to my car. It’s really not inconvenient, but it’s sort of funny. For the most part, they’ve given us run of the garden and Shanna’s found a little spot under one of the bigger bushes for Mira to play in the dirt with her sand toys and dump truck. However, they do come out to hang laundry, tend the garden, and visit us or play with Mira (they are really hitting it off it seems, or they’re just really gracious). There’s at least nine different grape vines growing and we’ll soon have a green roof out there and a tasty fall.

The other day (Orthodox Easter), they had some guests, and as we came in from church they invited us in to celebrate with them. We were also having guests so we begged off, after one quick toast. It was neat to get a glimpse of that bit of life, one of the guests told me that he had been friends with our landlord for more than 40 years. He also gave us a Pepsi, as he’s a manager there, and brought more for Mira’s birthday. If I spoke the language, and under other different circumstances, I might have joined, but while the offer to join them was certainly genuine, in fact, I would have hindered their enjoyment by forcing them to switch languages to one we’re all worse at.

We have a quiet street, most evenings kids are playing in it while the moms sit and chat, the only problem is getting people to find us. Thankfully there’s some easy landmarks, but we might put something on our door. The piano is quite out of tune, but we have somebody coming to work on that, then we have to find somebody to teach Mira (ok, not yet!). Shanna is still plotting a complete rearrangement of, I think, every single piece of furniture except the piano, and Mira still likes to see Ahma and Grandpa’s house when we video chat – excitedly exclaiming, “that’s my room” –  so maybe we’re not completely settled yet.

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