Picking a turkey

If you are vegan or at all squeamish, you may not want to read this post.

There’s a turkey farm relatively nearby where you can pick your own turkey and help pluck and prepare it. The birds are well cared for and fairly open range (they’re contained enough that they have a lot of space but they can’t just wander off) and the people who run the farm are good people. Xander and Katja went last year. I don’t remember what I was doing, but I couldn’t come. They enjoyed the time there, though she was slightly freaked out by the bird flapping at one point. She has talked about it regularly since then as something that she was interested in and, I think, still processing.

This year I got to come, too. It was somewhat easier because one of us could help with the turkey and the other could be in charge of Katja. Since I hadn’t been there before, Xander mostly handled Katja so I could concentrate on the turkey.

There were four other people there by the time we got started. One was a couple. The woman had been there the year before, just to pick up a turkey, but her boyfriend hadn’t been before, either. They decided to stay and watch, though the lady was very worried that she would freak out. There was also a father and son who hadn’t decided whether they were just going to pick up a turkey or pluck one. The boy (who was maybe 10 or so) ended up helping with ours.

One of the farmers went into the enclosure and got a turkey. She picked him up by his feet (he knocked her glasses off in the process!) and, once she was holding him, he was completely docile. Didn’t flap, didn’t object. She came out and handed him to me while she closed the door and put her glasses back on. Katja came around the corner with Xander and was rather surprised to see me with a turkey, which was pretty funny.

We took the turkey over to the processing area. The farmer put the turkey in a metal cone with a hole at the bottom and the turkey’s head came through the bottom of the cone. She thanked the turkey for its life and then cut its throat, quickly. The blood was really red, which I should have expected. The farmer explained that all of the turkey parts that we didn’t use got left out and the other animals (cats, dog, chickens, etc) cleaned them up. The blood was very nitrogen rich so it helped the soil when it was absorbed.

The turkey flapped a little bit in the cone but stopped quickly. There was a very large vat of very hot water a few feet away, so once the final twitches had stopped we put the turkey in the hot water to loosen up the feathers. One of the other farmers also turned it over and got the feet into the water for a while to loosen up the scales. I helped move the turkey from the hot water to the cool water bath. I ended up getting soaked down my right side, but that’s why we wore clothes that weren’t delicate.

Pulling the feathers out was interesting. The big feathers were pretty hard to get out. The smaller ones just had to be pulled the right direction. Katja helped for a while, but eventually got bored with it. Xander helped a lot with the feathers, too. We finished faster than I expected.

We moved the turkey to a table with a metal top and I pulled the rest of the feathers out with pliers while Xander and the young boy worked on pulling the scales off the feet. Apparently many people are somewhat disturbed by the idea of using the feet in stock because they’ve been in the dirt and grime, but they don’t understand that the scales are removed before the feet are cooked. The toenails also crack and come off; the quick looks like a fully formed claw, just soft. We also worked on loosening the crop so it could be easily removed later; this is where some of the food is stored. Katja was quite involved in helping with this part, holding back the skin and asking questions about everything. She wanted to know what was in the turkey’s mouth so I opened the beak and she got to see the tongue. She was a little surprised that it was pointed.

Once we had all of the feathers and scales off, the turkey was hung over a bucket and we removed the internal organs. These will be used for stock. I accidentally punctured the intestines, so it got a little messy, but I got the useful parts out and they were rinsed, first in water, then in a little vinegar just to make sure nothing was left. I peeled the lining off of the gizzard (it was almost rubbery, but since it has to contain pebbles to help with digestion, that makes sense; I just hadn’t thought about it before) and put it in with the rest of the organ meat. We then rinsed the turkey, chopped off the head and feet, singed the carcass to deal with the pinfeathers, and then bagged the body and the organs separately.

I was surprised that it didn’t bother me at all. The lady who watched but was very worried about it said that she had a new respect for her food and understood more now than she had. Once she got over the initial unhappiness about watching something die, she was actually okay with the process. Katja didn’t have any issues with it. We feel that it’s very important that she knows where her food comes from. A turkey isn’t just a big round thing on the shelf in a grocery store. It was a living creature that went through a long process before it came to our table.

I know that a lot of people will not agree with this particular parenting decision, especially since Katja is only four years old. On the other hand, by doing it now we are avoiding making it into a huge deal. I have a few friends who grew up on farms and saw animals slaughtered from when they were very young. Life and death are intertwined and, for them, they understood that. One of them became a vegetarian until she could grow her own food and make sure that the animals were well cared for. I can understand and respect that. I’d like Katja to understand what she’s eating. I don’t want it to be a shock or a terrifying thing when she figures it out at nine or ten. She knows now that she’s eating animals. If she decides at some point that she’s uncomfortable with that, it will be a well-informed decision.

We don’t eat much meat. What we do eat, almost exclusively, is free range, well cared for, and we’ve met the people who take care of the animals. It’s something of a luxury, but one of the reasons we don’t eat much meat is so we can be careful about the meat we do eat.

It was an interesting experience and we will definitely be back next year. It is, to me, a good thing to do. Also, the turkey tastes amazing!

Vegan feast

Once in a while we decide that it’s time to have a feast. The genesis for this idea came from my older brother. On his birthday, he makes food for people he cares about. His feasts are bigger and more elaborate than ours, from what I’ve heard. It’s an excellent idea, though, and since both Xander and I love to cook, it’s a lot of fun for us.

Our latest feast was in June. We had four adults and one other child at the table, so eight people all together. Xander took pictures of almost all the food. He made the majority of it.

Here is the menu, with pictures as available:
Hors d’oeuvres – Artichokes with Tri-Color Dip

The dips were a pesto with pine nuts, a beet dip, and a nut-based dip. All of them were quite good.

Soupe – Bloody Mary Soup with Cashew Horseradish Sauce
This was a nonalcoholic cold soup. The flavors were strong and unexpected; Xander described it as a cold tomato soup, which it was, but it really did taste like a Bloody Mary. The cashew horseradish sauce was quite tasty.

Entree – Portobello Mushrooms, Bell Peppers, and Asparagus with Peanut Sauce
This was really tasty. We love having a good farmer’s market here every Saturday, and the asparagus was perfect. The peanut sauce was good enough that some of it went home with the guests!

Trou Normand – Pickled Ginger and Green Tea
Xander made the pickled ginger. This was a very nice palate cleanser.

Salade – Assorted Hand Rolls
This was my dish. I timed it a little bit badly; you can’t make hand rolls in advance or the nori gets soggy, but I’m not very fast at them. Luckily no one was starving to death. The fillings were avocado with cashews, cucumbers with peanuts, and fried plantains with macadamia nuts. Xander fried the plantains, since I am still not a fan of frying things.

Plat Principale – Injera with Black Eyed Peas and Greens
We didn’t get a picture of this one. Xander has been experimenting with injera for about a month and it was very, very good. We always get a lot of greens with our CSA box, so this was a nice way to share them with people. Katja isn’t big on cooked greens but everyone else seemed to enjoy them.

Fruits et Noix – A Selection of Candied Nuts and Fruits
Xander found plums at the farmer’s market that were wonderfully juicy. The strawberries were quite good, too. There were two kind of candied nuts, one more traditional and one that had some heat to it.

Dessert et Cafe – Almond Milk Ice Cream and Black Tea
No picture for this one. Xander made the ice cream, which had ground-up bits of almond adding a very interesting texture, and the tea was strong.

The company was delightful, the food was good, we had a great time making all of it, and everyone left quite full. Definitely a good night!

Changing spaces

We’re in the process of deciding where we want to live for the next four years. We’ll stay in the same city, of course, but there are a couple of options regarding the exact location we want to inhabit. We’ll be making a decision very soon one way or another.

For the past year or so, I have been resisting settling in. We haven’t unpacked our books; they’re in the garage. We still have partially unpacked boxes of various things that are in the living area because we needed something from the box but the rest of it wasn’t that important. We haven’t gotten any furniture in the past year that we didn’t need, though we’ve thought about a few things. We’ve been kind of on hold in terms of making the space ours because we knew we wanted something different.

Now that we’re looking at a place to spend at least the next four years, I’m changing how I am looking at the space. I want the place we live to be our home, not just a house (or an apartment, as the case may be). I want people to feel welcomed when they come in. I want to be surrounded by things that I like and to have enough space that we don’t feel hemmed in. We don’t need a lot of stuff, but I’d like the things we have to be pieces that I actively want to live with rather than pieces that we’ve kind of ended up with. For the current place and the last place, I was unwilling to settle in too far because I knew we’d be moving. This place, though, we’ll be settling down in. By the time we leave, Katja will be in elementary school. That means it’s time for me to accept that we’re staying and make the new place, wherever it is, someplace that we like coming home to every night. It’s time to create home.

We know we will have a nice kitchen; we won’t move to a place where the kitchen is less nice than our current one. That part’s easy. We’ve already found bookcases we like, so we can start buying them as we have money. We’ll have outdoor space of some sort so we can grow things. Someday I’d love to get a nice rolltop desk. It will mostly be Xander’s, but I love the way they look and having one would make me happier than having some other piece of more modern furniture as a desk. There will also be more organizational things such as a bigger wine rack (we don’t drink that often, but it would be nice to have more options in the house), a couple of bookcases for Katja, since the current approach includes books falling off on a regular basis, and possibly something other than bookcases for the pantry items. I’d also like a bigger jewelry box at some point. I don’t have much, but it’s all kind of crammed into a small jewelry box right now.

I want to be able to find everything and not have pockets of clutter. I’ve lived with pockets of clutter most of my life, since that seems to be my default, but I don’t like them. I am calmer, happier, and I work more effectively when everything is organized and sorted. I haven’t set up the framework for that, though, so I fall into old habits and end up with, for instance, a pile of papers next to my bed that really ought to be filed soon. I think I’ll get to it before we move. I hope so, anyway.

We won’t get everything right away, of course. We will buy things in bits and pieces as we have the money. I think, by the time we are ready to move again, that we will be able to be happy with everything we’re moving rather than feeling put-upon that we have to move that irritating piece of furniture yet again.

My sense of place has never been particularly strong, but we’ll be here for a while and I would like to love where I am rather than simply existing in the space.

More running

There are days I wake up very congested. I have allergies all year. They make me miserable despite antihistamines. On the days that my face hurts because my allergies are raging, all I want to do is make it all go away and sleep.

I get up anyway. I run on days I’ve scheduled for running. On other days, I make a cup of tea, read a little, and catch up on emails. My family stays asleep because the noises I make while getting ready or puttering around are not abnormal noises. It may be ridiculously early in the morning, but I’m up and I’m moving. I’m happier for it.

I’m not sure when I transitioned to actually looking forward to running. Part of it is that I know that, miserable as I might be while I’m actually running, my congestion is usually a lot better by the time I’m done. Knowing that I’ll be able to breathe through both sides of my nose for the rest of the day is ridiculously exciting. The primary reason is different, though. I actually like running now. I’m not proving anything. I truly don’t care what my times are, though I’m sure that will change again as I get closer to a race. Running is my space, my time. No one cares if I’m fast or slow. Other people do care, though, that I’m a better person when I’m running regularly. I’m happier, more relaxed, and less likely to get irritated over small things.

I used to be a night owl, but I get more done in the mornings. I’m up at least an hour and a half before the rest of my family and, by the time I get to work, I’ve already accomplished something. I know the day might hold its challenges, but I can work through almost anything when I’ve had my bit of time to myself.

Since I started getting up early every day instead of just running days, I have felt calmer. I sometimes feel like I am defined by everyone else in my life. I’m Katja’s mom and Xander’s wife and related to a bunch of other people, too. I love my family. I don’t have a problem being identified as their relation. Sometimes I need to remind myself, to be reminded, that I am my own person, too. I’m not responsible for anyone in that time. I am, simply, myself, with no one tugging at me or needing me or even wanting me. The strongest pressure I get is from the cat. She’d really like to be on my lap on days that I’m not out running.

It isn’t always easy to haul my often-tired body out of bed when it’s still dark out. I regularly want to stay in bed more than almost anything else in the world. The more times I get up, though, either to run or to sit and read and sip hot tea, the easier it will be the next time I am tempted to succumb to the silence of the early morning.

Odd running moment

I went out running this morning. Tuesdays vary, but today was my hill work day. A few blocks away there’s a reasonably large open space with hills and I decided I’d work there. The terrain is different enough from my usual sidewalk running that it’s good for me.

It was about 4:15 AM when I saw the first coyote. It was running across the hill I was running up. It stopped and looked at me, partially silhouetted against the still-dark sky and the light spilling over from a nearby street lamp. It was a striking and beautiful moment. The coyote kept going and so did I.

Later in my run I decided to do a little work on flat ground to ease off on my legs a little bit. There’s a very large lawn area and I started running the perimeter. I saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye and, when I turned, there were two more coyotes wresting and tumbling on the grass. They didn’t notice me at first, or maybe just didn’t pay attention, since I wasn’t very close to them. After I’d run around them on the edge of the grass a few times, they both noticed me and stood, very still, watching me. As I continued my run, the third coyote made another appearance. All three of them began following me from about 30 feet away.

The sky was still fairly dark. I don’t think that coyotes generally attack people, but they were watching and following me and it made me a little nervous, silly as that sounds. I felt stalked. I kept checking behind me as I ran to make sure they weren’t getting closer. One of them was less fearful than the others and got to within 15 feet or so, trotting slowly behind me. I decided that maybe a street run was better today and got out of their territory.

As I finished my run, I heard their voices barking and yipping on the hillside. I don’t think they would have hurt me, but despite being in the middle of the city, I was definitely in their space. It was a little surreal to be followed by such wild creatures in the middle of a city run, but it isn’t something I will forget soon. I think I might start running that particular hill during the day rather than quite so early in the morning in the future.

Monday meander

The longer I wait to start writing again, the harder it becomes to put words on a page, so I am screwing my courage to the sticking place and writing despite the months of silence here.

We’ll be moving again hopefully sometime this fall. Our current apartment, while a nice place to be, is too far away from the university for convenience. We also have upstairs neighbors who sometimes wake Katja up at weird hours. Since she’s very good at waking me up, I’m always exhausted after a bad night, too. I’d like to be able to expect to sleep all night. I think I’d like apartment living more if we could soundproof the shared walls somehow. I like the utility effectiveness that can come with carefully designed apartments, but the shared walls are hard for me because their noise encroaches on our lives.

I have a pendulum on my desk that draws patterns in sand. I got it because work was kind enough to get me a standing desk, but the only place I can put it is in the corner right up against the light, which is motion controlled. One of my monitors now blocks the sensor, which means every 15 minutes or so the light turns off. This is not exactly conducive to a consistent workflow. I got the pendulum to offset this issue and it works very well unless I forget to tap it periodically, in which case I’m reminded when the light goes out. My coworkers are rather amused by this, I think.

We are having another feast later this month. This time I’ll try to remember to post the menu and pictures. We’re also planning to start our Sunday waffle tradition again once we’ve moved. I liked being able to just have any of our friends show up and eat on Sundays, and I really enjoy making waffles. We’ll do it around lunchtime so I have time to do my long run and have a little time to recover. I’d prefer to avoid inflicting my sweat-soaked self on anyone else right after a run.

Speaking of running, I have now completed three half marathons. I’m happy with that. They weren’t fast, especially not the third one, but I got through them and it was fine. The third one was the best in terms of experience. My first half marathon was a struggle; I started too fast, went at someone else’s pace for a while, and felt like I was struggling throughout, but I’d paid to go through a program (Nicole’s No BS Run Club and I was damn well going to finish it. That was followed by hip surgery, which was far from fun. I scheduled my second half marathon a year and a half after surgery and I finished it because I needed to prove to myself that I could, that I wasn’t broken. The third one, run after tearing my calf muscle and a month of jury duty, really should have been miserable. I was out of shape and my calves cramped up badly starting around mile 8, but the course was gorgeous (Huntington Beach on the bike trail!), the volunteers were very nice, and they wrote messages on the path to keep us going. One of the last ones was “My mascara runs faster than you!” which made me laugh. The earlier ones were supportive and also funny, but that one stuck in my head. I’m signed up for a few more over the next several months, mostly local but one a little out of the way. I have discovered that I really like the smaller races more than the big ones. I’m training for a repeat of the one I did in February, since I’d like to do better on the hills (“California flat” apparently means that it is never actually completely flat), but the others are mostly smaller local races.

Running is becoming a habit. It isn’t completely there, especially on nights when I don’t get enough sleep, but it’s almost automatic now to wake up, get into my running gear, warm up, and go. It definitely cuts into my sleep, but if I wait until evening the likelihood that I’ll actually run is pretty low. I’ll run tonight, since I missed this morning’s run due to multiple sleep interruptions last night, but this one is only half an hour so I should be able to talk myself into it.

I can’t quite believe it’s June. For the first time in years, for me, winter has not included any snow. The months are smearing together a little bit. I’m happy to be here, but I don’t think I’ve quite adjusted to the lack of seasons. The year round produce is amazing, though!

Life in general is going pretty well. We’ve had some hiccups, of course, but we’re trundling along fairly happily. I’m enjoying being in the pool more, both on my own and with Katja. I am going to have to teacher her how to put sunscreen on my back, though, apparently, since I’m a little bit lobstered at the moment. Work is going well. I’m starting to make friends, thought that is, of course a slow process, since despite being technically right on the line between introvert and extravert, I’m still somewhat shy.

I’m learning a lot right now, which partially explains the silence. I’m learning to be a better parent, learning to be Katja’s advocate, and working on some internal personal challenges as well. I’m also playing more in the kitchen, experimenting rather than following a recipe, and I’m gaining quite a lot of confidence there. I feel like there’s a lot going on but none of it is really fascinating to anyone else, which is fine. I just find it difficult to write when I don’t feel like there’s much to write about that isn’t just rambling. I suppose I’ve gotten rather good at rambling over the years, though, so I should go with my strengths.

Thanksgiving evening

I’m sitting in a quiet apartment. Everyone else is asleep and the cat is purring, curled up next to my hip. It’s a rare moment of peace in our busy little household and I am enjoying it.

Thanksgiving for us usually involves inviting anyone who doesn’t have anywhere else to be. This year, we didn’t feel like we could do that. We just moved here recently and we don’t know very many people yet. We also don’t have the house completely set up, which makes it more difficult. We decided to keep it small, just the three of us and my mom. She’s vegan, so we adapted most of it to fit her. The turkey, cornbread, and pumpkin pie were not vegan, but the green beans, squash, stuffing that wasn’t inside the bird, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and little wheat loaves were. We also had both vegan and non-vegan gravy. It was all excellent. We also have a ridiculous amount of food left over, but that’s what Thanksgiving is for, right? We do have plans for all of it.

I thought settling into a new place would be harder, somehow. Reno was a difficult place for me to live in many ways. I felt like it didn’t fit me. We have a lot of very dear friends we made while we lived there, but I always felt out of place, somehow, and I had begun to think that perhaps that was simply part of being an adult. I’ve been here for a couple of months now and, even though I still periodically get lost driving around, I feel more at home here than I think I ever did in Reno. I don’t have close friends here, which is sometimes very hard, but the general feeling fits me better, I guess. We live in a very multicultural place. When we go for walks, we end up talking to people about random interesting things. When I go running, I almost always get a comment or two of support from unexpected people. The CSA is year round and the person who works at the stand at the farmer’s market is always very nice and chatty. We talk to the guy who sells eggs and Katja always gets an extra piece of apple or orange from one of the fruit stands. We go climbing twice a week and everyone has been very welcoming and supportive of a three-year-old going up walls. I love my job and I like the people there. I have a gym four minutes away, so if I get there early or I’m feeling like swimming, I have somewhere to go.

I know in some ways it isn’t perfect, but I decided when we started talking about moving that, no matter where we ended up, I would work on seeing the best things first. I didn’t like Reno very much by the end of the time we lived there. I was allergic to everything, I didn’t like how dry it was, and I didn’t feel like I had a place there, like I really fit. I decided to change how I saw the world because being miserable was not improving anything. So, yes, sometimes traffic is nasty. Sometimes the fact that our apartment sucks at airflow unless we turn on the air conditioner can be frustrating. There are little things that I see on a daily basis and I acknowledge them. I am not being a Pollyanna. I have just decided that, since we’ll be here at least five years and possibly many more and I want to be happy, I will accept that some small things will be a pain but I will focus on the positive aspects.

This weekend we’re going to go visit an animal shelter to see if we can volunteer. We found a little local bookstore that we love. We have plants growing on our deck. We eat at the table on the deck quite regularly and it’s very nice to chat with people as they go by below us. We have fresh, good food every week and easy access to a grocery store for anything else we need. Our kitchen is much better than the last one. Everyone seems to be doing well at school and work. We found a local children’s theater that looks interesting. There’s a lot of live music of a wide variety of styles that shows up within half an hour or so of where we live. We have family here, a little distant but not too far, and it’s very nice to see them regularly. I’m also going to check out a running group soon, since I’ve never really run with anyone before.

I’m glad we’re here. I miss people we’ve known for years and I really hope we can keep in touch; I’m working on it. I haven’t made new friends yet, but I remind myself that it took a while to make friends in Reno, too. I have a few acquaintances who may become friends at some point, so there’s hope there. Overall, I think this is a good move for all of us.

I’m feeling very thankful today. Not to a god or higher power, but to our friends and family who have been part of our lives for years. Xander and I have been together for ten years and married for eight, and in that time we have been lucky enough to get to know some truly amazing people. We’re in a new place now and I’m happy to be here. I feel like I fit a little better into the culture here, though I may be imagining it. It feels more open, more comfortable. Perhaps it’s simply that I don’t feel like I’m fighting my way through every day. I like going to work; I like coming home. I think that may be pretty close to my definition of perfection.

I hope anyone reading this has spent the day with people you love and good food.

Denizens of the o’dark hours

I wish there were a term like “gloaming” for the early morning. Gloaming is twilight or dusk. I want a word for early in the morning, just as the east is starting to get a little bit light but before it’s really clearly day.

I run early in the morning. If I’m not out the door by 5, I’m running very late. Throughout my running years, that’s the time of day I like best for running. It starts out the day nicely and I don’t have to think all day about when I’m going to fit it in or whether I’ll still have the energy for it by the end of the day.

I like it because it’s early. It’s my time. Nobody else in my family is up by then (well, on good days, anyway) and I don’t have to worry about anyone else. It’s just me and my running. The other reason I like it, though, is because of the people who are also out at that hour.

I haven’t met anyone first thing in the morning who is clearly unhappy. I say good morning and they say it back. Some of them also carry on brief conversations with me, always (so far!) positive. During the day, in the bright sun, I’ve said hello to people and gotten sworn at, but in that delicate time between full dark and sunrise, it almost feels like everyone has put the bad part of the day on hold for a little while. The sun isn’t anything more than a suggestion in the sky yet and the day, for those of us out walking, running, or biking, is full of promise and possibility.

My mornings are better for running. I am happier for these brief interactions with people who are simply out and moving, maybe going to work, maybe getting some exercise. I can often hear the smile in someone’s voice as they respond to my greeting. I hope they can hear the smile in my voice, too.

The denizens of the time before dawn are, by and large, good people. I like that.

Fragile quiet

Ever since I started running, I’ve gotten up earlier than the rest of my family. I like running in the mornings, especially since I don’t have the time to talk myself out of it as I do when I run in the evenings. Midday just doesn’t work for me. I sweat a lot and I don’t have access to a shower most days. I will run midday if it’s the only time I can, but I’d prefer to run before the sun comes up.

Rest days are a conundrum. Do I allow myself to sleep in, setting myself up for irritation when the dog wants to go out at her normal time? Do I get up early anyway and feel a little bit like a martyr, getting up when I don’t really need to? Do I split the difference? I’ve tried all three of these, but now that I’ve started meditating in the mornings, I need that time even if it isn’t a day I exercise.

Meditation, as I’ve mentioned, is difficult for me. If our almost-three-year-old is awake, it’s almost impossible. Even if Xander is taking care of her, letting go of thoughts becomes much more difficult when I’m listening to make sure he couldn’t use my backup or listening to her push his buttons in quick succession, just as she does with me sometimes. If I wait until later in the morning to try to meditate, it doesn’t happen. Getting up before everyone else seems a small price for being able to quiet my mind, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes a day.

I don’t get sunshine to help me wake up first thing in the morning, but I drive east every morning so there’s no question about whether I get a dose of sunlight. I’m back to walking at breaks and lunch at work now, so that should help with my state of mind, too. My stress levels are slowly easing back down to something manageable. I’m working on being more present, putting my phone away when I’m with my family, and not trying to multi-task, since it doesn’t seem to work well anyway. I’m better when I’m focused on one thing. I can enjoy it more fully, too, when I can completely engage with what I’m doing.

If it helps my overall well-being and sense of self, I’m willing to adjust my sleep schedule.


I’m finally home! Nyx, Loki, and I moved last weekend. It was ridiculously hot, to the point where just sitting on our patio would make me break out in a sweat. It was muggy. I was exhausted. I was, however, extremely happy because I was finally in our new home with the rest of my family.

The new apartment is quite wonderful. Nine foot ceilings give a sensation of space. The kitchen is beautiful: deep granite countertops, an island, a gas stove, lots of cupboard space, and under-cupboard lighting all combine to make me happy. There’s a swimming pool, which is great on hot days. Nyx is still adjusting to having people living above and next to us but she’s doing reasonably well. We still have a ridiculous number of boxes that need to be unpacked. We’re making progress slowly. Since we’re only really home much on weekends, though, that is just going to take a while.

I won’t talk about my job much, any more than I did with my last one, but I’m very happy. I’m overwhelmed and the learning curve is very steep, but the people are amazingly nice and I actually like going to work in the morning. Because of my work schedule, I don’t even have a very bad commute.

Katja’s new preschool is good, too. The only problem is getting her to come home at the end of the day. She’s having so much fun that she doesn’t want to leave at the end of the day. She is talking a lot and I think she grew an inch in the three weeks I was still in the old house.

I have a lot of adjusting to do. I guess we all do. It’s nice to be here, though, and I’m looking forward to exploring a new place and learning a lot of new things.