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First Weeks in Our New Home

January 19-31
written January 23 and after
Dear Friends and Families,

After about a week of ownership, we were getting close to moving in.  Mostly, we had been unpacking and trying to squeeze all our stuff into the new house.  On paper, the new house is not much different in size from the old one, but things FIT in the old one and don't really here on Cambridge - yet.

Here's a bit of the story, told in pictures.
We have moved the yard art, including Igor, our night watchman.
This was from our own orchard (1 tree), very sweet oranges.

We have been enjoying Mamo's hospitality for almost a month, but now we will be on our own.  Of course she needed to do one more inspection before she let us go.

We have been inundated with salesmen and contractors.  Sam the AT&T guy finished our TV, internet, phone installation.  The ADT guy came and activated our house alarm, a first for us.  (Fresno crime makes such services almost mandatory.) Ross, the water guy, gave a convincing demonstration of how bad Fresno water is, so we signed up for water softening.  Meanwhile, in the yard, Caesar is removing bugs from the little art shed and boosting it up above the dirt to keep the termites away.  Next week he will fumigate.

Rooms are getting closer to done.  Not quite up to Marianne's normal standard, but we will get there.
We have even lined up guest beds from a local antique dealer -- authentic 1930s. 

Friday (24th) was not our busiest day, thanks in part to taking Mamo out for breakfast.  That sort of start just slows us down, and that's a good thing.  Our biggest accomplishment may have been learning how to reset the security alarm.  The last time into the house, I had made the mistake of forgetting that the system was  "armed", so naturally the loud siren went off.  I managed to quiet the alarm, but did not realize there was another step to resetting the ADT panel so we could be "protected" once again.  However, even I can learn new things, although I am getting into learning overload on  our return-to-America.

d140124_02_LR_chair.jpgOtherwise, Friday was limited to a bit of shopping, this time for kitchen-area lights and, surprisingly at the same Lamp Store, a nice stuffed chair to finish off our living room.  I use the term "finish" loosely since pictures and decorative knick knacks are still mostly missing.

Saturday we seemed to run from the 6am coffee at Starbucks and breakfast, until we fell into bed at 10pm.  Doug, the gardener, came by in the morning to assess the cleanup needed to get our jungle back under control.  Really, all parts of the property are overgrown, except the grass that is undergrown, if such a word exists.  We agreed that he would return Monday and trim and haul for a day or two.  
After (Updated on Wednesday)
While Doug was planning his attack, Jose was installing our new water softening system.  Unobtrusive installation in the basement was apparently not practical, so he put the equipment by our back door.  Kind of ugly, but no more so than the gas meter, I suppose.  It is interesting that the mild Fresno climate allows such equipment to be installed outside.  That would not have worked in Pommersfelden or, especially, Kiev!

d140125_30_rosesBefore.jpgd140125_32_rosesAfter.jpgWhile Jose was spending four hours on his water plant, I attacked our backyard roses, 24 plants worth.  Doug would have done this on Monday, but I felt the need to be part of our gardening and, besides, we had gone to an hour-long rose-pruning seminar just a week ago, so I was an expert.  At least it felt like a normal homeowner activity.

d140125_20_fileCabinet.jpgWe spent money in the afternoon.  First, we went to "Dug O Vic's" antique warehouse to get the guest beds.  Marianne did a good job at negotiating the price down, a skill she has that I don't.  After that, we went to another antique shop and found a perfect file cabinet to complete my office decor.  She got a bit of a discount there too.

d140125_25_couch.jpgNext, we tried a new furniture store, on the chance that we would find a couch for the library/TV-room.  We were expecting a multi-session search, but the first store we went to had something we wanted, although it must be ordered and will not show up for a couple of months.

(Speaking of a couple-of-months, the Audi is still in transit, stuck in New Jersey as far as I can tell.  Every few days we get another excuse for why it is not really on its way.  That whole import process has been a mistake, but we live and learn.)

We finished Saturday with a nice fish dinner at Pismo's, a huge, crowded, noisy  meal-factory.  We reminisced that our Bavarian neighborhood had nothing approaching such a food-establishment scale, just little cafes, small restaurants, beer gardens, and gasthauses.  Nevertheless, Pismo's food was good and the sweet potato fries were excellent.  We just need to adapt to our new country.

On Sunday I tested our new coffee maker instead of a morning trip to Starbucks.  This may have been another sign of settling in.  We also had another Mamo excursion to slow us down, something we should do on Sunday in any event.  We visited some of the local rural towns around Fresno, reminding us that this is really and truly a farming heartland of California and even America.  Maybe it's not as picturesque as Bavaria, but it is interesting in its own way and taking time out to look around the greater neighborhood was worth it.

d140128_20_TV_prep.jpgd140128_21_TV2.jpgMonday and Tuesday (27th and 28th) were back to work, the work of moving in and settling.  Doug the gardener started a two-day attack on our overgrown plants.  (See above for before and after.)  John, the semi-skilled homeowner, hung the kitchen TV on the wall, doing every step at least twice.  Fortunately, the TV hides the extra wall holes.

Jan the key guy redid all our locks and simplified the keys we needed to carry from five to two.  We appreciate any life simplification provided.  Our other life improvement came from Steve, the appliance installer.  He brought to life our new washer and dryer, the latter our first in 15 years. Not requiring days for clothes to dry on racks makes our American experience positive.

d140128_30_LivRoom.jpgAnd our rooms are getting gradually more and more final.  Today (Tuesday),  maybe only the living room and master bedroom are REALLY close to final, to the degree rooms ever are,  but we are getting there.  We hope we will be able to start living here, not only preparing.  We'll see how soon that happens.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


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