A significant concern I had in preparing for a four month absence was taking care of the house. We have a lot going on here. Stretched wide on a 4/5 acre site at the edge of Whittier, this lot provides a fire break from the canyon floor for about 6 houses behind us on the next street. Keeping the yard watered and weeded is a significant feat. We’ve been improving the lot since we moved in 12 years ago by constructing paths, which form terraces to even out the less steep side of the lot, and bringing in over 90 tons of river rock, which serves as mulch as well as to define the edges of stairs and bases of fruit trees. Weeds blow in from the adjacent canyon floor and if they are allowed to bloom, they quickly take over our hard won landscaping.
We have had the help of Hiro Ota, our landscaper and go-to guy, a creative and resourceful man who committed to helping us 11 years ago, and provides not only construction and maintenance help, but also excellent advice. He does a lot, but Joe and I do a lot of yard work too. It takes time and energy to keep everything under control and I was concerned that someone who came to house-sit might not be willing to deal with the high-maintenance aspects of our home.
Luckily, our older son Jared was ready for a hiatus from his work in Reno, and agreed to come stay here while we’re gone, with the extra added bonus that he will care for both dogs. He’s been here for a little over a week, and is glad to get started substitute teaching in our local school district, as he had nearly a decade ago, but he’s also putting in a vegetable garden. He came nearly a month before I am to leave with Joe in the RV so he could get oriented to all the quirks of the home.
What I didn’t realize we were getting in the deal was his excellent cooking-every single day! He loves to cook, and makes outstanding dinners every night, just for us two- and sometimes for guests. Just last night he roasted chicken thighs over slabs of onion with garlic tucked in and a layer of spices on top that he whipped up. He loves hot peppers, so he’s planted two big pots on the patio with them, and set up trays of herbs and pots of tomatoes and cilantro and...well, you get the picture.
Another unexpected bonus was the enjoyment of his company in these few weeks before I leave. It’s pretty exciting to have lots of quiet time with this truly interesting person--he’s insightful and witty. With uproarious laughter rolling down the hall from the computer room caused by his discovery of the humor section of reddit.com, and his tender care of our two dear dogs, he warms the emptiness of a Joe-less home for these three weeks.
I have to confess to a little trepidation about the limitations of “home” on the road; I’ve become accustomed to reaching for a book or a magazine or any number of conveniences with which we have feathered our nest, with perhaps the most significant being 24/7 wifi internet connection. That’s simply not going to happen on the road, as the rhythm of the days will be far different: no walking the dogs, hours and hours of riding, sitting in one seat, with perhaps some 3G connection on the road, some wifi in parks at night. On the other hand, I’ll have the fun of minor league games, visiting friends across the country, and the constant companionship of my husband, with whom I travel pretty well. So it won’t be too bad. Plus I’ve been stockpiling electronic gadgets and games, which is very meaningful for me.
LIke my unexpected gratitude for my older son’s presence in these days before the trip starts for me, I think I’ll find lots to like about the time with Joe, especially basking in his happiness in making his national anthem tour dream come true.