Utah has been kind to us, easing us back into life with four seasons after 5+ years spent in the mild weather of the tropics. For our first week here we’ve had comfortable temperatures, many sunny days, and no snow, not even on the ground (other than high up in the mountains).
But it is February, after all, so it’s perhaps not surprising that we woke up this morning to a few inches of powdery white stuff on the ground. At 7:00 this morning the streets had already been plowed, and David felt vindicated for having bought what seemed to be an expensive snow shovel earlier in the week (which I’d been teasing about just a bit, given the lack of snow the area has had this year and the waning winter).
David came in after trying out that new shovel, remarking “well, just goes to show, ‘never say never.'” I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but he reminded me that when we left Maine for Costa Rica, he’d said he’d never be shoveling snow again. So, guess it’s true, better to just stay away from those “never” promises!
Interestingly, I woke up this morning (or at least I thought it was morning) and realized we’d had snow. It seemed to be about the same “morning brightness” I’ve come to associate with about 6:45 or so, which is still gray but distinctly “light” vs. “dark.” But no, it turned out it was still the wee hours of the morning. Apparently the “morning brightness” was actually just the various lights around town reflecting in the clouds and falling snow. It was a peculiar phenomenon, but I was not unhappy to find out that rather than being time to get up, there were actually several more hours of sleep to be had!
Another Sunday morning surprise was that David came back in from his shoveling with the Sunday New York Times in his hand. Double-plastic bagged, it had been thrown in the driveway. Home delivery of the Sunday Times has been high on David’s list of things he’s been looking forward to, so it was good timing since I headed off mid-morning to spend some time with Jen and Avila, leaving him alone to take care of Mom. Mom was unusually quiet and relaxed, so armed with his newspaper he managed fine in my absence.
With Jen’s assistance, I completed the last of our main “relocation” shopping by acquiring a car seat for Avila. We’ve been on a very tight budget, but still have a lot of things we needed, so we’ve been shopping voraciously and yet carefully for the past week. We’ve accomplished a huge amount for only being here one week, with one of the most notable being the purchase of a car! Living in Costa Rica these past years — where almost everyone we know (us included) drives a car that’s 15 to 20 years old — helps to give a little perspective on car as “transportation” rather than car as “definer of self” so we were less daunted by our $3,000 budget than we might have been prior to our CR time.
We found a very clean ’97 Chrysler Town and Country minivan with very low mileage (verified with a CarFax check), and even after 4 new tires and all new brakes, it came in around our budget figure. Then throw in a little bit more for initial licensing and registration costs (a process that seemed almost laughably easy after going through similar processes in Costa Rica) and we’re extremely happy with our purchase. (The fact that it’s the same color as the old Ford minivan we’ve been driving the past 7 or 8 years adds to our feeling right at home!)
We’ve continued to be pleasantly surprised at the [low] cost of so many things here. I have no doubt that if you wanted to spend a lot of money, you could do so, but for simply acquiring basic needs and food, the prices are a treat with many things about half (or less) what they would have cost us to buy in Costa Rica. I’ll do a detailed post in the next few days hitting some of the highlights, but for now just know that we’ve been grateful. It’s made shopping for the things we need a pleasure rather than a budget-busting ordeal.
We haven’t only been shopping during this first week. We’ve also had a great initial meeting with the Alzheimer’s Day Program where we’re hoping Mom will be able to spend some time, and as an outgrowth of that (she needed a TB test before she could enter the program) we spent an excellent two hours at our local Centerville Medical Center which is associated with the University.
It’s just a few blocks from us, so a great place for Mom to have a primary care physician, and the lovely Vietnamese Dr. Pham who spent so much time with us was intrigued enough by Mom’s behaviors and symptoms to suggest hooking us up with the University’s Neuro and Cognitive Program, so that was really gratifying. (As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, getting Mom here where she can make use of her Medicare and get some more thorough evaluation and possible treatment was one of the side elements of our decision to move back to the States.)
We also got library cards for our excellent local library (also just a couple of miles from us), got the dogs licensed and ourselves set up for our local city services billing. Got car insurance and renter’s insurance all established with a local agent (also nearby) and have been eating up a steady diet of $3.49/pound sirloin steak.
We’ll start expanding into more exotic foods (one of the many things we’ve been looking forward to) but have actually just thoroughly enjoyed several dinners of that sirloin steak, or the $2.99 London broil, and some great Sockeye salmon filet, along with artichokes with hollandaise, and simple salads made with the readily available bags of organic mixed greens with bleu cheese dressing. Yes, more exotic things to come, but it’s been a great first week.
We’ve been enjoying our DirecTV package and high speed internet (combined cost of about half what we paid for the two in CR for far-less service) although we’re still learning to actually use our DVR and record things. (Not that it’s difficult — it’s shockingly easy, in fact. We simply don’t have the habit yet, but I’m sure we’ll learn!) We’ve also been enjoying the ambiance (and even the warmth) of our gas fireplace — the first ever we’ve actually had, after all those years in Maine hauling wood for “real” fireplaces — and we’re instant fans.
I’ve been wrestling with one pesky little internet problem where one set of my email addresses won’t “send” email, and I’m sure there’s just some setting I need to change that I haven’t yet figured out. Guess I’ll call ‘em tomorrow and see if they can point me in the right direction. (We’re also still adjusting to the fact that “issues” like that can be solved in English and I don’t have to try to figure it all out in Spanish. Although ironically I was able to chat with one of the tellers at my local bank in Spanish.)
LOTS of busy-ness, and a full first week. This upcoming week we’ll actually start taking care of Avila some while Jen and Larry are at work, and hopefully Mom can start in at the Day Program and will respond well to it. Then I’ve got lots of shipping work to do, and a book outline that I’m WAY overdue to get finished, so it’ll be another busy one.
I’ve got several posts half-written that cover those last couple of weeks there in CR, and at some point I’ll “back-fill” the blog here and get those in. But I finally realized I’d better just jump in where we are and pick back up with the present, or I might just get hopelessly bogged down with unfinished stuff.
We’re missing our friends there in CR which has been made worse by our being so busy and my therefore being way behind on emailing with folks! And, of course, those clear blue skies and 70-degree temps are remembered fondly. But no complaints at all — we’re thrilled to be here and looking forward to all the new adventures to come.