Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Month the first

So here we be, on Lopez Island. Life is more settled than a month ago, to be sure, but I'm still not feeling comfortable here.
Some basic challenges:
The ferry. $50 round trip for a car and driver, $12 or so for a person walking on. 45 minutes ride plus any varying amount of time spent hanging around waiting for departures, which average every 4 hours but are not evenly distributed through the day. Holidays and summer can see full ferries which mean more hanging around waiting for the next one. the scenery is pretty, if it isn't foggy. puzzles are provided for entertainment.
The housing. we're renting a furnished condo, which is fine, nice enough and ok. but it's not home or anything close to home-like as there's no room for me to add in our stuff and no storage whatsoever to put away any of their stuff. Also, we can only rent until may, at which point summer rates kick in and will bankrupt us quickly. Also, the baby is due in April, which means I have a strong urge to get settled somewhere. soon. There's not much available to rent, and we are told that most deals happen word-of-mouth. So I'm struggling to be patient, and we tell pretty much everyone we meet that we are looking for a rental situation.
The prices. While nothing at all like the cost of living in bush Alaska, the food at the local supermarket runs a bit pricey and the produce at the farm stands is astonishingly expensive. We've signed up for a quarter of local, pastured beef, but anticipate paying about $500 for it. Chickens can be purchased locally but at a self-imposed sliding scale fee of $4-8 per pound. I am so put off by the stigma of requesting the cheapest price and also put off by the idea of paying more than $4 per pound of chicken, even local chicken that I can't get it together to sign up at all.
The phones. cell phones get little to no reception on most of the island. We bought a "booster" which does indeed boost the signal, but is limited to our house. So we are paying cell phone rates for essentially landline usage. We could give the phones up, but the usefulness of having them while off island is enough for now that we keep them.
Some good things:
Preschool. Julia goes tuesday and thursday from 9 to 12 and loves it. the very first day I stayed with her and did my monthly parent volunteer day, which consisted of cleaning, providing snack, and light supervision of kids. Since then she's gone by herself and has shown little anxiety about the separation. two days a week costs us $95 a month, which is pretty dang good as far as preschool rates go. Julia has become a lot more content since preschool started. She's always had a strong social urge and this opportunity to play with kids is critical to her general happiness.
A friend. Crystal and Anthony and their 4 boys under the age of 7 moved here the same time we did, from upstate New York. Anthony teaches at the school and Crystal is home right now with her two youngest. One of the boys is 3, and he and Julia get along great. It's super nice to have someone with similar aged kids who can relate to the trauma of moving! They are the only really friendly family I've met so far, so I'm grateful they exist!
Beaches. two blocks away is the nearest beach and the island is littered with them. The one closest to us is a great spot to find beach glass and I've got a large bowl filled already. Julia collects shells and little crab skeletons. Sometimes we see seals in the water. No whale sightings yet, though they are supposed to be out there.

the little bench outside the preschool 
the beach closest to our house

a good day's worth of sea glass 
our bounty of green tomatoes from our garden. Now we are down to just one bowl of wrinkly ripe ones left
Julia and Gus (#2 of the 4) checking out a starfish
the beach at our friend's house
one day we rented a kayak and paddled around. Julia loved it, and it was lovely except that it made my morning sickness worse! i've had an aversion to boats ever since. 

one day someone was selling fresh salmon out of their truck for $1.50 per lb. we bought 3 and Dave filleted them and froze them. I think the total was $24.  I hope we see them again soon so we can stock up a bit more before winter. Julia was very involved with the fish cleaning and cutting. 

for those of you familiar to the reference, there's a potty patrol on the island! At the local trash facility first you pay for your trash at $8 per large bag. then you sort your recyclables, for free. then you head over to a big room of free stuff. take it or leave it. it's staffed, so it's sorted and easy to pick through and on our first visit, Julia adopted this enormous robotic veloceraptor. It looks completely evil, but she cuddles it, wraps it in blankets, feeds it playdough and flowers and puts bows around its neck.  
the first day of preschool! She was so excited we had to leave the house a full hour early and go to the beach to kill some time.   
and nothing like a good wrestle with Daddy and Andrew Schwartz, who came to visit for a day. Other visitors so far have been Grandma Gini, Grandmomma Dawn and Auntie Gracie, who just moved next door to Bellingham to start college. Nobody else is in the wings yet, so reserve your vacation days and come check out the island!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

saying goodbye and new beginnings

Here's the end of mosier pictures: Dave is up at Lopez for all of August, and Julia and I are home in a mostly empty house waiting for our condo to open up.

a little last canning: tomato sauce and raspberry blackberry jam
some solo parenting escapes to the ice cream shop
annnnd pregnant! I told dave by messaging him the picture! So very excited!!! I think we are due April 20th if all goes well. 
some pickles and more tomato sauce
some dancing at local live music
some time with little buddies
we moved our chickens to their new home. they will be happy, but I was sad to say goodbye. 
returning the yard to its former state. 
one more wee batch of tomato sauce
and then we are off to my folks, for a week spent with my siblings putting a new roof on my parent's house.  
lots of fun with aunties and uncles!
Julia went with Auntie Gracie and Uncle Olaf to nanny for some family friends all week, so I could help roof. 
My job was mostly sitting and pulling nails, then sitting and pounding nails, with the occasional break to drive the truck to the dump. It was two days of hot dismantling the old roof and just over one day of putting new roof on. 

Then we drove back to Mosier and had our last week at home, spent hanging out with little friends
and more aunties and uncles!
we moved the party to mosier as my cousin got married in Hood River
primping, preening
and looking nice!
Julie Andrews, I mean Grace

Olaf, Christopher and Joseph
Mom is competitive at croquet!
lots of dancing!

lots of feasting
lots of photos

more feasting
and ending the night with dancing, beer and gelato! well, no beer for me, but extra gelato! 
Then most of my family left, save for my mom who cleaned and packed and cleaned some more for me until we were ready to leave. I got a hitch installed on the subaru and hauled a trailer up to Mount Vernon. Dave met me at Grandpa Dave's and we unloaded the trailer, and re-loaded the car and a van and that night got on the ferry out to Lopez island. The rest is for the next post.