I have not yet had a spare moment to even look at our Paris photos, but when I do, you'll be the first to see my favorites! We arrived home on Sunday night to no hot water. This was not a huge surprise since our hot water had been hit or miss for the week before our trip. Our landlord sent someone out on Monday night. That guy said another technician would have to come take a look. On Tuesday night, for the first time ever, I had strange workmen in the house with no landlord/landlady or Nathan around. Thankfully, I had Crazy Dog and his Girlfriend. Scully can bark, but when another dog (especially a girl) is around, he really must show off his strong protector qualities. Fortunately for me, this meant two gentle, sweet, loving dogs turned into snarling beasts, lunging at the glass door opening onto our back patio where the workmen were. It was awesome! I do not discourage this behavior, which is going to be a problem once we return "home." I'll deal with that domani, domani [tomorrow, tomorrow - a favorite Italian saying]. The workmen spent some time hanging about with various faucets running before telling me lots of things in Italian. One of them seemed to be something along the lines of turn on the radiators, wait ten minutes, then take a hot shower. That made no sense, but when I questioned it, I got the same answer. Then the men said they'd come back the following afternoon. Then it was "or on Thursday." I assured them that I am at home all the time (you might think this is an incorrect answer to tell strange men, but it's actually opposite from what one would say in the U.S. - here, it's better for people to know you're at home all the time rather than knowing your house is empty and your belongings just waiting to hop onto the nearest white van with no windows). As the workmen were leaving, one said maybe he'd return on Friday. So at that point, I had a possible repair date of Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday after 1:00 p.m. This was worse than Comcast! [What am I saying...there is no company on earth with worse customer service than Comcast...unless things have changed drastically in my 15 blessed months of not being a Comcast customer.]. Well, it's Wednesday night now, and I've gone four days without a shower. Thankfully, I am an excellent sink bather and cold water seems to be the answer to making my flat, boring hair incredibly bouncy, so I've yet to resort to boiling water on my stove. I'm reminded anew of just how many of our "luxuries" can be taken away without the world crashing in upon itself.
Nathan and I have been married fifteen years, and in that time, we've had the incredible fortune to take some amazing vacations. But my favorite of them all was a canoe/camping trip we took about three years ago to the Boundary Waters, an area of hundreds of lakes on the border between the U.S. and Canada, a place to set off in a canoe with tent, sleeping bag, food, and camp stove, and leave all niceties of civilization behind. It's the only time in my life that I've really felt apart from the world at large...and it was phenomenal. For five days, we rowed and camped with three other friends - just enough companionship to prevent loneliness, just small enough to allow us to enjoy solitude. One day in particular, we explored a small lake near our campsite for the night and came upon a campsite of other people plus two other canoes in the distance - we left that lake because it was "way too crowded." I marveled at the fact that we were in a place with no cell phones, no TV, no radio - anything could be happening in the world at large, but what was important to us was getting our shelter set up each night, finding a spot with a beautiful view and flat, stone-free ground, cooking a simple dinner, enjoying fellowship with our friends, reading a good book before drifting off to sleep. Hanging in our bedroom is a framed photograph of our final campsite of that trip. I open my eyes every single morning to this picture and have a daily reminder of just how beautiful Creation is and how many of the "things" that fill our lives can be so unimportant. As we enter another Christmas season (and on a day when I've just wrapped and packaged Christmas gifts to go back to the U.S., and gotten writer's cramp from filling out all the customs forms), I think it's always important to have a reminder that the material things are just expressions of love - the things don't matter, the people and experiences behind them do.