The move is on. . .

May 2, 2007

As of today we no longer own a home. We are paying rent for the first time in 31 years. It is only for one month. We are relocating from Indiana to Las Vegas and the cost of moving is not staggering, but moving from the seventh lowest-cost of living urban area to one of the fastest growing urban areas is staggering. We love our home and enjoy it more than love it. Yet, it remains a home and not an obsession. Our new home is the same size, just $195,000 more than what we just sold our “old” home for. After doing the numbers we find we can afford a new home, even if sticker shock really does apply.

Finding a home was not as easy as we thought it would be. The last two homes we purchased were in small markets with few homes available. We looked for 1 or 2 days and saw what we thought were best picks. Time in the community affirmed our decisions. DSC00196.JPGThis time we struggles. JoAnn searched for 2-days and found a few in our price range. I didn’t like any of them so on the third day we started all over again and this time we found 3 homes we were both comfortable with. The first home was clearly our favorite – 3 bedrooms, den, living room, family room and the master bedroom was a dream room. So was all the grass. The price, however, meant we would probably only eat every 3rd day, so that was out. The next two we selected were much easier and found them comfortable. The one we have purchased was comfortable to us from the moment we walked in the door. It was clean, relatively new (4 years), warm southwestern colors throughout (check out the photo of the spare bathroom – we will issue sunglasses) except for the laundry room and spare bathroom. They too remained a part of the southwestern theme. For JoAnn the key selling point was the 12 to 15 feet of kitchen counter. She is dreaming about the cupboard space and counter space.

And so once again we are moving, but for the first time in 35 years we are moving west. In 1972 we left California for 2 years in Utah, a masters degree, and back to California. Somehow Kansas, Iowa, and Indiana got in the way over the ensuing 33 years. Years that we will never forget or regret. The desert was probably not our first choice, but in fact, it was. We are going to enjoy being west after all of these years. I’m leaving my snow shovel and salt behind for our new home owners. I’m leaving my lawnmower behind for my good friend who has a large acreage, and we are embracing a desert lifestyle (so to speak).

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June 26, 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006 12:16 PM
I’m sitting in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and there is a flurry of people around. The World Cup is in full swing. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but I was anticipating a larger presence of World Cup enthusiasts. I have seen some people wearing their country colors for the World Cup and a couple who were really decked out. I have heard more comments of fans than anything else. There have been Mexico, Portugal, obviously Holland, Japan, England and others. These people are not overly distinguishable from others, of course I’m not going to be on a flight to Germany where I might have a different opinion. I have learned that football whether it is the American power sport or the world finesse sport is treated as a religion by its adherents.
The matches that I have seen on television have been good, but leave it to American networks to run two games simultaneously so you can’t watch both of them. Yet in American, the world cup has had to compete with the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs, and the college baseball world series, which is still going on. In fact I would appreciate the opportunity to have been able to watch more of the NCAA baseball championships. So, while the rest of the world turns almost all of its attention to the World Cup, it only makes the front of the sports section in the US when we are eliminated.
I’m at my destination in Cyprus and the World Cup is very evident. As I walk along the strip every nightclub, pub, and restaurant has a large flat screen plasma television. Last night I was at the beach at a local outdoor restaurant with 2 big screens so you could see the game wherever you were. Between the two matches we watched the Toronto Grand Prix. It’s all in Greek so I’m watching, but I can figure most of it out. England barely pulled it out in their game. It would have been a sad town for all the visiting British had they lost – and I suspect it wouldn’t have been good for business either. I sat with a local crowd and since Cyprus and Greece are not in the world cup they were respectively quiet. My table was pulling for Holland and we thought for sure they would pull it out. I won’t pretend that I know all there is to know about football, but I’m learning. Some of the strategies don’t make sense to me, while others are easily discernible.
Fans are fans, wherever you go. Some are fan-atical while others are reserve. Not being a sport fanatic I find sometimes that the dedication and commitment by fans to teams to be partially unfathomable. I don’t suspect I will soon be a fanatic, but appreciate grows within. Yes, I still long for a good baseball game where I seemingly understand what is happening.

It’s Golden Fields

May 9, 2006

Flooding Tuolumne River by A. Passalaqua
Was it just yesterday that I was writing about watering and cutting grass and complaining about the California influence. And here tonight I sit in the central valley of California. I’m always struck by how “brown” California is. As we flew into Oakland the western hills were green – part of the coastal prairie – and then as we drove further east on Interstate 580 we moved from the coastal prairie to the central valley the hills turned that California gold. As we drove south on Interstate 5 and then east on California 132 we were struck with how much flooding was apparent along the Tuolumne River, on both sides of the road. Of course because it was California there was flooding, from the snow runoffs and rain, but mostly the former. Right across the highway from the flooded river basin and just down from the flooded fields a farmer was out making sure his irrigation was in place. Even though we are Californians, we sometimes wonder about the incongruity of it all.
Yet if you are raised with it, do you really wonder. One of my daughters recently moved to Idaho and at church she heard regular prayers for rain. Of course Idaho had been in a drought, but this idea of praying for rain, when you live in a desert, well that was just a little much for her and told a few folks that. Her husband explained to their friends, “You have to forgive her, she is from the midwest.” Perception is everything – it is what we believe and what we act on. Changing beliefs, experiences, and perceptions are all linked.

I’m glad to be in California for a week. The land of brown hills, green cities, busy freeways, and no humidity!

P.S. – The photo is by my nephew and shows the Tuolumne river overflowing near his home.

Out and About. . .

April 29, 2006

I’m starting this entry in Amsterdam on a Saturday morning on my way to Limassol, Cyprus. I would like to suggest I’m on holiday, but it’s only a partial holiday as I will be very busy teaching and working on manuscripts. I teach 4 to 6 hours every day, stay in touch with the office, although when the office comes to work it is 3 pm in Cyprus and class begins at 5 pm.

Many are envious of my opportunity to spend time in Cyprus, and I suppose rightly so, but it is not the holiday they think it is. There is a certain holiday spirit that comes from being out of the office and able to take morning walks, not worry about interruptions by students, having time to do some reading and writing, and some relaxation. Yet, I really enjoy working with the students. They are all professionals and have a strong desire to do well in the classes we teach. They all work full-time or more. I admire their commitment and diligence. They are as good a students as I have had anywhere.
Maroc 081
It is the culture that fascinates me. I learn more every time I go to Cyprus, Morocco, or where ever. Sometimes we are wont to say, it is a British thing, or a Greek thing, or a California thing. But, what is a thing? I suppose it is, in part, an outsider’s perception or bias of another culture. We may or may not fully understand the culture, but we make assumptions about the culture and the people represented by the culture. Most likely they are not accurate. They may be a partial representation of the culture and they may be framed from our limited experience. The assumptions are often framed by what others have told us, what we have read, and from what the television has shared with us (rightly or wrongly).

It’s from these biases that when I enter a culture I find myself having to stop and take stock of the people. It forces me almost into an ethnographic approach of trying to observe and learn from the culture. I certainly learn a lot from my students. They are proud of their culture and of their country. They take me to places where I can see the history of their culture, where I can gain a greater feel for it. Had it not been for my very short time in Sparta and Athens and especially in Athens I would never have understood where John spoke to the Athenians about the unknown God and why the location he spoke from was so important to the Athenians. As I see the ruins from various locations in Cyprus I gain a greater understanding of the culture, of how they endured 400 years of Turkish rule and almost 100 years of British rule, and yet retained their strong Greek culture.

So yes, I am out and about and learning as I always try to do. I am anxious to see what this trip has in store for me. (Initially written 15 Mar 2006)