Last Thursday all our stuff came from California: circa 157 boxes, 3 sofas, a queen bed, 2 kids’ beds, various kids’ furniture, chests of drawers, coffee tables and side tables, televisions, clothes, shoes, toys, kitchen stuff. . . which would have been great if we had been sitting her in an empty house. However, we left our old furniture in our German house when we moved to California and bought all ‘new’ stuff on Craig’s List so finding space for everything has been a challenge and our living room is as crowded as a Turkish opium den.
But let me back up a bit, because receiving a gimongous container of stuff isn’t that exciting and wouldn’t normally merit more than a passing mention. But there’s more: As I explained in my last posting, Ralf was in Dublin for a couple of days. He was supposed to come back Wednesday night but missed his flight, which also meant we missed our chance to schlep the furniture we know we’re getting rid of into the garage. It also meant that at 8AM Thursday morning I was facing 4 burly young Bavarian men and one scrappy one who kept saying ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you’ to me in English but nothing else. German blue collar workers don’t generally like dealing with the lady of the house - I gather this is because 'she' tends to be indecisive and wants to try out all the heavy stuff in several different positions before committing - and these guys were no exception. Me being American wasn’t cutting any ice with them, either, except maybe the scrappy guy. They ignored me as much as possible until Ralf got home before lunch while I slunk around after them trying to make sure they didn’t break anything and feeling very much in the way.
Anyway, a lot of hard physical lifting and sorting was done by all and somehow the trucks were unloaded (but not unpacked) shortly after 2 PM. I had a call at 4 and was in a tizzy because I’ve been ‘applying’ for an international mommy group and didn’t want to miss their Halloween party. In the end I called in a few IOUs and sent Ralf, who was of course delighted to go and didn’t have anything else to work on. Unfortunately, my call got canceled so it ended up being a lot of logistical stress for nothing. This was not such a bad thing for me because I had plenty of work to catch up on but from Ralf’s point of view the afternoon was a wash. When he later asked me how my call went I considered lying but ended up blurting out the truth and watching various expressions cross his face, none of them good. Finally, after sharing a few pointed observations with me that I will not repeat here, he stalked out of the room only to have his dramatic exit blocked by piles of boxes.
I’ve been trying to create the impression of a fairly stressful day but amazingly, it got even worse. toward the end of the day. Once the kids got home, wired from the Halloween party, K’s friend Kaye came over to play and the first thing they did was climb up on the highest piles of boxes containing glassware and use them as a sort of high, dangerous path around the room with L standing underneath the most rickety pile of boxes and K rocking back and forth overhead. This activity was quickly forbidden and segued into the less dangerous but more annoying game of opening boxes at random and pulling everything out that looked interesting.
Still doesn't sound that bad? Well, then K gave one of her Halloween candies to Kaye, who immediately began choking and gasped something about a peanut allergy. Then, as I was frantically searching the Internet to find out if Twix actually has peanuts I heard a strange popping sound, which later turned out to be exploding potatoes that I forgot to poke with a fork before baking. Meanwhile in the background L was running around with no diaper screaming, ‘Caca! Wipe me! Wipe meeeeeeee!’ This would have been the right moment for the cat to drag in a dead mouse or throw up on the new carpet - a car crashing through the wall or a massive pipe bursting would also not have been out of place - but fortunately the exploding potatoes seemed to herald the end of the destruction.
Now for the good news: You’ll be happy to hear that in the meantime we have unpacked many of the boxes and the rooms where we do most of our living are inhabitable now. You will also be glad to know that Kaye lived and in fact never swallowed any peanut products at all. And that L’s caca scare was also a false alarm. And that I was able to get most the potato bits out of the oven. And finally, I am sure you will be relieved to hear that Ralf was a hit with the other mommies and we have been officially invited to join the group.