Homeward bound (part 2: arriving in Houserville/State College for a rough re-entry)

Homeward bound, part 2: re-entry into the State College area and our rental house in Houserville.
Warning: this post is pathetic, but things do improve. Stephen managed to be relentlessly cheerful and Elizabeth stalwart all day, which helped. We decided that we're going to re-do Mother's Day (and most of the family's birthdays too)

When we realized that we'd be returning to the State College area early, we knew we needed to find a place to live. Our house is rented to a Spanish family through June. They have been self quarantining since February, watching the debacle in Spain unfold. We asked if they'd be returning early to Spain? Nope. Staying through the school year (mid June). We asked if they'd be willing to move? Nope, staying in our house. After Chris was hospitalized and we contemplated transitioning multiple times, an offer to pay their rent for another house suitable for their needs in State College didn't work either. Nope. Staying put. Though sad, we do get it- they have a risk situation themselves and we wouldn't want to be responsible for someone getting covid.

Chris had already looked around, finding a fairly reasonable rent for a house in Houserville (a small town nestled within the State College area). The house is an old farm house, across from Spring Creek- great location, looked reasonable. We negotiated to rent it for the month of May, then week by week after that until our house opens up. We asked about having our pets in the house- nope, due the potential impact (not unless we kept them in the sun porch and paid a hefty deposit).

On Saturday after we navigated back to the US, we found our way to the house not too late, but tired. Gorgeous light, pretty setting. And what a cool barn! Chris wants to buy it... turn the silo into a climbing gym.

Opened the door to lots of yummy food + signs = most excellent. So very welcoming.

We started to poke around, figure out how to get situated. We soon realized that while things looked neat and tidy on the surface, the underlying cleanliness of the house was not so great (look in a drawer for a quilt, find mouse poop). After showers to get rid of the germs from the plane, we head for bed, too tired to function. Never find a quilt for our bed, so sleep in our sleeping bags. The kids are good, nestled in.

Chris and I woke up at 4 AM on Sunday morning (didn't mean to), cleaned for 3 hours enough to put food on shelf, function in the house. We just spent 2 days cleaning an apartment in Stockholm. We thought we were done cleaning for a bit.

Don't have password for the internet. Contact the local person for the house- he thinks the password might have been... (in this day and age, sharing an internet password might be fairly normal?) Internet doesn't work. have to wait until landlady in Seattle wakes up. Chris goes to campus to use the wifi and see if he can get his phone to work. Campus wifi spotty, mostly shut down.

Chris parks outside our house to use our own internet. Sad because it doesn't look good- the grass is overgrown, the gardens looking unkempt. Ironically, I soon receive a warning from the Borough (the city) about failing to cut our lawn and keep it less than the requisite 6"- they will reinspect in 24 hours to ensure it has been cut. I forward the message to our renters.

While he's gone, I make pancakes for breakfast. Get the frying pan down, have to clean out the dead spider and caked on food. Cry for a bit. Chris comes back, having failed at fixing the phone situation. We decide not to talk about either situation, eat pancakes with berry sauce from Tait Farm (thanks Mieke & Ezra! this is a bright spot).

Go for a walk along Spring Creek in the sun- fresh air is good. The wind ripples through the grass. We wander through the nearby graveyard- how to be quite distant from anyone living. 

When we return, the kids open birthday cards and birthday presents- thanks, all. Another bright spot!

Landlady doesn't respond until a demand email hours later- contacts Xfininity who discovers the system needs rebooting. Reboot, but then it still takes 2 hours of phone time from Chris' end to figure out the system (sorta). Our cell phone connection -shaky at best-dies during the call. Somehow they manage to call us back. The fabulous person at Xfininty manages to reset the system, gets it working. We are big fans of Karen at Xfinity...

By late afternoon, we finally have an internet connection. Some aspects of workable phones, at least on my end. We let the landlady know how dismayed we are about the cleanliness via email; she writes a very apologetic email back and offers to let us stay for free until August. We appreciate the gesture but will pay our rent (but appreciate paying just for the time we're in the house, not the week we're still in Sweden). She notes that she normally she comes from Washington State to ensure the house is clean between rentals (normally more long term). Covid means she can't travel. We feel better, happy to help her out and make the house habitable. We'll leave in better shape than we found it. 

We take stock of what we might need and put out a call for help- three sets of friends stop by for distant talks in the parking lot and a swap of stuff. One set brings bring our power washer over- the back porch would be lovely except for the 2 inches of dirt and algae. 

We eat tasty lasagna for dinner, manage to wish each other "skol" with our special drinks... I fall asleep at 7:30 pm on the couch, head to bed at 8. Early morning today but it helps to go to bed early. Chris was less fortunate and is still struggling with sleep. 

So how's re-entry during a pandemic? Yesterday down right sucked. We knew that everything would be challenging, but this re-entry was laughably bad. Character building, sure. I feel like my character is plenty developed. More deep breaths. For those with whom we talked earlier in the day, I'm sorry- we're not normally that cranky. We decided that I get a re-do on Mother's Day.

The good news is we're here. Chris managed the travel okay- only a headache, nothing more (though as I write today, his lungs are impacted again. This is going to be a long, long process). We have lots of tasty food- mac & cheese for lunch yesterday, apples as a snack. The kids are cheerful and doing better than we were (perhaps it helps not to wake up at 4 AM). Stephen liked being thanked for his relentless cheerfulness. Laundry from traveling is done and dry. The sun came out this morning after a huge rain storm passed through last night. It's a Monday. The kids are back in school. This transition may take a bit. But we can do this.

This picture is from this morning across the road towards Spring Creek from where we are staying. The buffer has a load of garlic mustard- next up is contacting folks who manage this buffer and offering my weed pulling services! Also next up is accessing our boats to go play in the creek.