Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mountain living 101

Living in the country high up on a mountain is a whole new educational experience for me. Sure, we lived in a village on Mt. Olympus for a year, but we didn’t live in the boondocks high above the village like we do here. Things are definitely different here, and it is amazing how different the weather is here as compared to the center of Thessaloniki, which is maybe 10 miles away. Sure, maybe it is just a few degrees, but the air feels different. It is definitely cleaner, aside from the poo molecules floating in the air.

One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t ever have a good appreciation for dense fog until you have lived in the thick of it for days on end. Sure, I’ve been in situations where the fog was so heavy you could barely see in front of your car, and on Olympus we had moments when we were totally ensconced in fog, but never for more than a few hours. When you can’t really see past your balcony you start to feel a little uncomfortable, especially when it lasts for two days. But after awhile it seems kinda cool, like you are the only people floating on a cloud way up in the sky. The creepiest thing is when a dog or cow walks out from the fog, like a ghost from the ether. I compare it to the corn field in Field of Dreams.

Also, it seems I never really knew wind before. At first we had your typical mountain wind, resounding with a low whistle through the trees high on the mountain as it blew towards us, which is, of course, one of the best natural sounds ever. But a week or so ago we experienced our first storm winds, which were insanely powerful. Anything not tied down was subject to being blown around, and that includes people and animals. While our doors and windows are well insulated and cause no draughts, apparently the fittings around the rolla are not. That high pitched screeching really got on my nerves after awhile, and it bothered the cats immensely. I won’t even mention the mess created by the gaping hole for the stove hood pipe in the kitchen. Needless to say, my husband patched it up that day.

Obviously, I’m going to have to get used to all these weather aberrations, but so far, so good. We’ll see how well I do with the first big snowstorm of the season, which I am not looking forward to, unless we don’t have to drive anywhere. Then we can be snowed in.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

How to simulate airport life in your very own home

One thing I have found completely overwhelming about setting up a new house is keeping track of all the little necessities that you would never have to think about when you buy a house that is already finished. For example, we were on top of all our indoor lighting needs but hadn’t really thought about outside lighting, which is quite important when you are trying to put the key in the lock after dark. Luckily my brother-in-law, who moved into his house next door about a month before we did, has been on top of all of these things and has been making arrangements for us as well, including outdoor lights, heating petrol, and the doorbell.

What I didn’t know was that my Microsoft Flight Simulator playing husband had given his brother specific instructions for the type of doorbell we wanted (and by we I mean my husband, because I hadn’t even given it a thought). So now every time someone rings the doorbell, it sounds like we are in the airport listening to the chimes preceding a flight departure announcement. At some point maybe I should put a stop to the real-life consequences of his geeky behavior, but it is hard to when it is so damn amusing. I tell you one thing, if he ever asks me to wear a flight attendant’s uniform I’m drawing the line right then and there.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Out of touch

Yes, we survived the move. There was a moment there when I really thought I wouldn’t, because moving day was made all the more hectic by the movers calling the day before and saying they had to change our move time from noon to 7:30am. This was a problem because my husband was on shift and wouldn’t be home until 10am, and the TV, DVD player and computers all had to be wrapped up, which was a job I couldn’t do. So my poor father-in-law had to get up way earlier than he ever wants to on a Saturday to help me out.

General chaos ensued, mostly caused by the cats realizing “oh crap, not this again”. Two of them scurried under the bed and I had to flush them out with the vacuum cleaner, which my father-in-law found greatly amusing. Then we had the harrowing trip to the house with the kitty chorus chiming up in the back seat. Thankfully, my FIL found it charming and not irritating.

We all got settled in pretty quickly. Princeton still hides under the couch when he hears unknown footsteps coming up the stairs (how he can tell is beyond me) but I think the cats are enjoying their views of birds, cows, goats, pigs, and bugs. We are enjoying our wonderful view of the Thermaikos Gulf and the night lights of the city around the gulf. Having so much space is a bit overwhelming – we pretty much live in the upstairs except when fixing food.

Since this is Greece, we didn’t have a phone until late last week. The phone company actually came out to hook up our phone three times in the last few weeks but came up with various bullshit reasons why it couldn’t be done yet and the hoops we had to jump through to make it happen. We thought we would have ADSL within a few days of the phone being hooked up because we had taken steps early on to make it happen, but of course that fell through too, so we finally bit the bullet and decided to use dial up, which was no small feat. The laptop is the only computer with a modem, so we have to share it two ways on an ad hoc wireless network (because for whatever reason, you can’t share dial up on a normal wireless network) and it is really, really slow and really, really irritating. I don’t imagine we’ll be logging in often until we can get a real internet connection. I mean, I survived almost a month without the internet, I can probably go longer. Maybe.

I appreciate all the well wishes of those who stopped by during my absence. I can spend some time writing offline so I’ll be able to share some of our mountain village experiences since moving into our new home.

To the folks in California – I hope the fires die down soon and those of you who have lost so much can start rebuilding your lives. My thoughts are with you all.