Manuel is in China for seventeen days doing reconnaissance for our summer trip. It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that pulling this off makes a research trip to Rome look like child’s play. Manuel buoyantly explained to me that the house comes with daily cleaning. He knows I fantasize about a daily cleaner. He then announced in a rather soft voice that it also comes with water. (as in water is an add on) There was also a nice morning when he sent an email that basically said, “if you hear about an earth quake don’t worry we are fine.” It took some serious Google chops to ascertain that he was referring an earthquake in Burma with after shocks in southern Yunnan. I finally found it mentioned on an Irish site. He assures me that it’s not especially seismically active where we’re going and that there are no nuclear reactors near by. Those of you who know my husband will know that he was one of the first foreigners in the jungle of Indonesia and that he specializes in remote. His trick is to take complicated lab instruments into the wilderness, tree canopy etc. It’s all very macho and scientifically impressive. And it leaves me unconvinced that he’s going to keep me in the style I’ve become accustomed to.
To start the family prep I first need to write an official letter to the school asking permission to take the kids out of school. When I spoke to the city home/school counselor (truant officer) to get myself out of trouble for Jonathan’s absences I didn’t have the guts to say “by the way we’re about to yank them for the last five weeks of school” The kids have embraced the idea of me home schooling them while we are there and already demanded an hour of recess a day. I also need to talk to a travel nurse at the Pediatricians office about vaccines and meds. We need enough antibiotics, allergy and asthma cocktails to get us through three months. In terms of my own medical needs; I’m assured that there will be plenty of beverages to reproduce my wine/beer/ and cognac habits. I look forward to going through security with a hefty supply of antibiotics, epipens, inhalers, and a few steroids for good measure.
Meanwhile I’m on day eight of seventeen of single parenting and so far so good. Skype and Google phone make this whole business 100 times easier than it would have been even five years ago. We can talk on the phone a couple of times a day for free even during an earthquake. And I purchased a ludicrously expensive soothing ginger bubble bath at Origins which I’ve been using almost every night. There was one rough when the kids got rowdy. I yelled at them and took a way a variety of privileges. (both gestures were completely ineffectual) The result was they disowned me and asked “Does anyone know what’s wrong with that woman.” My parents thankfully came to provide some back up this weekend. I couldn’t quite figure out how to get babysitting to run a ten-mile race at 7:15 in the morning and go to an Orchestra concert at 8 in the evening. Among other activities we made a pilgrimage to the cowboy boot store where I had to inform my boys that they could under no circumstances have a little rebels belt.
The ten-miler was despite my dire predictions fun and not a disaster. It’s a great community event. Though between the earlier start time and cold weather the spectators and bands were less present this year. I woke up with the sense that paying $35 to run 10 miles in the cold and dark at 7:15 in the morning was really dumb. But as it turned out despite cold weather and being a little under trained I ran it faster than I ever had before, with a respectable 1:17 (7:42 miles). Charlottesville as a town is addicted to running. Our first winter here I announced to Manuel that I was pretty sure I’d won my division of the ten miler (women over 35 nursing babies under six months old). He shot that down with a “not in cville you didn’t.” Today I’m pretty sore; walking up and down stairs hurts. And during the singing part of Sunday School it was pretty easy to identify the moms who had run the ten miler—we were all getting up off the floor with a little more drama and a little less grace than usual. But may I also say that it’s pretty impressive look around a room full of school aged kids and note at least six moms in their 30’s and 40s with multiple kids who had run a ten mile race the day before. After all our people have not for the most part stood out for their athletic accomplishments.