Thursday, November 27, 2014

Things we take for granted

It's Thanksgiving Day in America, and we're seeing lots of messages about overeating and the ridiculous chaos of Black Friday. It doesn't seem much like Thanksgiving here on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, though the Tesco grocery was advising that we should get our "holiday turkey or ham," presumably for Christmas. Donna-Lane and I had a semi-traditional Thanksgiving dinner, substituting BBQ spareribs for the turkey but adding corn on the cob (imported from Spain), onion and chives mashed potatoes, and cole slaw. We also had a fire going in the woodstove as we sat in a glass-walled conservatory with a view of rugged stone walls bordering the spacious yard, an assortment of mature trees, and garden flowers bracing for the brisk winter.

In the evening, I took Rooby for a walk along the "greenway," an old rail line which has been converted to a jogging and biking trail. Goes all the way to Clew Bay but not tonight. A bit too nippy for an hour-long hike.

The walk had to wait, though, until after the electrician came on an emergency call to fix the hot water which supplies not only the shower but the room radiators as well.

We're house- and dog-sitting for a woman and her teen daughter who are off to India for three weeks. The "cottage" is a very recent purchase - they moved in less than a month ago, so even they haven't learned all the nuances of the new place yet. And like many older houses in Ireland (and other countries) this one has its quirks. We figure by the time we leave on Dec 20 we may have finally figured out how everything works (nah!).

But thanks to the electrician who came yesterday (the day of our arrival) and today (the day of the homeowner's departure) and the other emergency electrician this evening, we have lights in the bedroom, heat in the rooms we'll use most, and hot water for showers, dishwasher, and laundry.

We tend to take basics such as electricity and plumbing for granted, and when they don't work it can cause a mild panic.

In a way, we've "moved" to a new house much like the owners. We have to figure out where things are, such as dishes, get the WiFi hooked up (essential to get our work done), load drivers for a new printer, learn which keys unlock which doors, remember to drive on the left side of the road (I've done it before, but it's still a mental challenge), discover where we might shop for groceries (and what familiar and no-so-familiar brands they carry ... yes! Oreos; yes! Lindt dark chocolate), and when half-awake distinguish between the bathroom and the closet.

This is our first house-sit, and it's not unlike some of the airBNB's we've stayed in recently where we occupy the entire apartment or house, learn how to navigate the place and the area around it. The key difference here is Rooby, who loves to have her head, neck, and belly scratched.

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