Wednesday, August 6, 2008

One Month! And Counting

Written by John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur, July 31

First month under our belts. What have we accomplished so far?

Let’s see. We’ve bought and insured a car. We found a longterm place to live. We acquired some furniture and some friends. We’ve certainly gotten to know the island, driving all over in search of those things.

Tori has applied for several jobs and has good prospects at a couple of schools. I actually found a job, writing for the island’s online newspaper, the St. Croix Source. It won’t make us rich, but it’ll help pay the bills.

More still to do, but it’s a start.

Bits and pieces

I had commented to the Realtor who was driving us to look at the wrong house that few streets had names, but even those that did, no one seemed to know. In getting directions several times I’d said something like, “Okay, so I take 70 down to Emancipation Road ...” and the person I was talking to had said, “Oh, I don’t know names or numbers. Just drive past the police station and turn right.”

“No, people usually use landmarks,” the Realtor had said, pointing out the old rusted water tank that was often an important landmark in that part of the island. “When I first got here, someone was giving me directions and told me to drive until I came to the field where the horses used to be.”


Lot of wildlife on the island. There’s a stretch of road near here that I’ve driven by almost every day, twice a day coming and going, and there’s always goats right along the side of the road. A dozen or so, grazing, oblivious of the cars flying past. I’ve taken to calling it “Goat Alley.”

Chickens everywhere, apparently running wild. No one seems to own most of them. Our friend Daryle warned us, “Never feed the chickens. If you do it once, you’ll have 40 chickens at your house twice a day, at 10 and 4, waiting for food. It was costing me $10 a week in chicken feed.”

I love watching the hermit crabs scuttling along the deck here. If you walk past them, they immediately tuck into their shells and roll over as if saying, “Nothing here but a rock! No need to try to eat me! I’m a rock!”

Lots of birds. I’ve always thought of pelicans as sort of comical birds, probably from their depiction in the cartoons of my youth, but they’re amazing flyers and fishers. Watched a frigate bird last night, holding his place in the sky almost effortlessly for more than 10 minutes as he kept on eye ion something below.

And we saw a deer the other day. Honest to god, I couldn’t have been more surprised.

Still to do

Biggest thing on the list is to get the kids settled. You’ve probably read their posts – Kate and Millie, especially the latter, but all of them really, haven’t really accepted the move, accepted that this is home. They’re still looking back, at what they’ve left, not forward at what’s to come. It’s understandable. Tori and I both moved fairly often while we were kids. We do understand how hard it is for kids. But they’ve got to try a little. Right now they spend most of their time watching TV, reading and sleeping.

In part, Tori and I have been so busy trying to get the family established here that we haven’t been able to spend as much time helping them through this as we’d like to. Millie, who writes the most dogmatically about hating all of this, has actually done the most. She has gone with us on many expeditions, and has taken to doing a lot of baking –and for the most part is really good at it. It’s something she can do. Alex, except for one brief and not successful job attempt (I wish she’d write about it, it’s a funny story) spends almost all day sleeping. We’d like to take her on some of our errands, but we can’t wait until 4 p.m. to start the day. Kate watches TV, and Max, as the youngest is the most malleable. He trusts Mom and Dad that this will all work out.

Janet has also been a concern. She has good days and bad days – both physically and in attitude – usually on the same day. She tries, but she’s limited in what she can do and over the course of a dayshe gets tired, then the kids start to wear on her, then she starts wearing on the kids, until by evening no one is really happy.

We’re here. We’re going to be here for a while. We’re together, we’re a family. We need each other. Everyone needs to accept those things, or everyone is going to be miserable. We’ll work it out, it’ll take a little time is all.

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