Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stick this in your orifice - Weston, MA

Instructions on the top of the GIANT recycling bin
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am not a do-it-yourselfer. I have nothing but the greatest respect (but not envy) for those who can build treehouses from toothpicks and recycled farmhouse wood or keep orchids alive for longer than the evening of their arrival in their house, sew evening dresses out of curtains, that kind of stuff. I just can't do it. I "have people for that". Yes, I am willing to pay. 

Here is an example of this. We have arrived in this sweet town of 11,000 people outside of Boston and there is no central garbage collection service. Say what? We had garbage collection three times a week outside our door in São Paulo. But here, with no knowledge of what to do, we allowed garbage to pile up in the garage for a week until I was saved by two fortuitous moments: 1. I asked a neighbor what she did with her garbage (answer: self-haul to the dump) and 2. A coupon arrived from a company called "Orifice" for garbage/recycling collection for $55/month.  Let's go at this is the proper order:

Town dump. Let me get this straight. I need to pile up a week or two of stinky garbage including lobster husks and chicken bits, then chuck it into my trusty car and haul it over to the town dump. Wait, not so fast...you also need a car-specific pass that allows you to dump there. Yes, I found out about it at the town hall--I had to show my purchase and sale agreement for my house in order to get the coveted pass. I passed on the pass. I have neither a permanent car nor do I enjoy the smell of garbage in the morning, or any other time of the day. Yes, I am probably missing out on some social hour over diaper genies but I'm going to have to survive. I'd rather join the Weston Women's Club or whatever. 

Garbology. Ah, the serendipitous arrival of a coupon from Orifice Recycling and Refuse. Just the name made me smile. Not to mention the fact that the brochure stated that this was a "garbologist since 1985." Yes, the owner of this company has been in garbology since I was in high school. I do not know if he truly holds a degree in such a field, but I have decided not to annoy him by asking. Anything but go to the town dump. Anything.

This morning I silently cheered when the giant green garbage truck piled boxes and bags and recycling and everything into its maw, and left two enormous wheeled bins behind for me to practice my own style of garbology. I feel clean. 

One small step.

Monday, July 28, 2014

What Could Possibly Go Right - Weston, MA

So yesterday I posted about what went wrong on our return to the US: TSA checks, temporarily-lost cars, broken arms, that kind of trivial stuff. But I forgot to talk about what went right. And many things did:

All nine of our bags made it through customs and to the final destination in Boston. Nothing was broken. Everything is here. Yes, two of the bags are literally exploded on my bedroom floor but since I don't have any place to put anything (the dressers are not yet here and I am opposed to hangers in general), that's just the way it's going to be.

My brother and sister-in-law surprised us even before the baggage claim. They were holding a huge sign welcoming us to the United States and had two perfect kid-sized Boston Red Sox hats for the boys. I haven't lived in the same town as my brother since 1995 (and technically we are still not in the same town since he is downtown and I'm in the 'burbs) but he took time off of work (as did my sister in law) to make our arrival special. He even helped us find our lost car in the parking lot. Love.

Three of my new neighbors came over to introduce themselves--one brought cookies, and one loaned us a soccer ball since we had forgotten our ball inflater in Brazil. We are sitting on several useless deflated balls. Lalo is no fan of deflated balls. One of my neighbors is clearly insane since she volunteered to stay with the twins if I needed to run out and do some errands (clearly she doesn't know that I would never ever return--just kidding, BH!) I now know more of my neighbors in Weston than I did during six years in São Paulo. Love.

My parents. My wonderful parents. My parents live near Chicago but they drove cross-country a couple of weeks ago to get us set up here. We arrived to a giant soccer goal and art supplies for both kids, food in the fridge, cold beer and wine, extra sheets and towels and a whole lot of love.They have been helping with the kids too as we run around with various errands. They even rented a car to help with the vast quantities of luggage and braved rush hour Boston traffic for us. Mom has weeded the flower beds and gifted us plants which I will try really really hard not to kill (but know that their days are numbered). Love.

And when things did go wrong and my son Nico broke his arm, the forces of good came together. The pediatrician got him in quickly, various people offered doctor recommendations and other support, my sister in law came in to the hospital with a fluffy toy and a card, later taking his six-year old cousin's out of camp early so she could visit the hospital too. My brother again stopped by, taking time off work. My parents sat for hours with us in the uncomfortable hospital room. My mom stayed with Nico at the beginning of a rough second night so the rest of us could have some time out. Lest you think I have forgotten, the much maligned BH won massive numbers of points from his overnight stay, his taking-care of the whole insurance mess, and for dealing with a very upset mama bear. 

As we were leaving for the hospital, a beautiful vase of flowers was delivered from a São Paulo friend. A homecoming gift. More love, and from afar. And the response of friends through email and facebook about the injury to Nico has been overwhelming. His two godmothers sent him a remote control tarantula--yes, he loves spiders and he can control it with just one hand. Perfect. Love.

I don't have a single friend yet in Weston but I have one incredible support team.

And that is what has gone right.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What Can Possibly Go Wrong - Weston, MA

What actually went wrong - complete with the floor that caused it

So when I named this blog, I was laughing about the title of an article about allowing concealed firearms into schools--
what could possibly go wrong? It was just so obviously over-the-top ironic. And I thought that it would be a great title for a blog about moving back home after years away in Brazil--like, I know this place, what could possibly go wrong?

And what I've learned is that one should never ever tempt fate. When something went wrong, we were only two hours home in our new house in Weston, MA, after an overnight flight, a connecting flight complete with a TSA run-in (no, nothing with concealed firearms but rather a forgotten filled water bottle--I almost went to jail over it, but that's another story), and a lost car in a Boston Logan Airport parking lot.

The house is nearly empty--our shipment is not expected for another month, if lucky. We have a few pieces of furniture I bought from the former owner, but mostly we're camping on top of lovely polished hardwood floors. I had just put on a dance playlist and the kids were sliding around on socks and playing capoeira. I was in the dining room unpacking when I heard a crash, and ran in to find Nico literally screaming in pain and holding his arm. 

Now I have a kid with high pain resistance, and one with low. Nico is low. We comforted him and shushed him, and put him on the couch to rest. We knew he was hurt but we thought he was perhaps overreacting because he was tired from the trip. Sure enough, he fell asleep on the couch soon after. About an hour later, he woke up in pain unable to move his arm--his elbow had swollen to twice the size of the other.  And so we debated: I had already set a well visit with a local pediatrician the next morning at 8 am so the kids would be approved for summer camp participation. Should we wait or should we take him in to the emergency room? 

We have emergency care coverage from our Brazil insurance but doctor visits are not covered right now. I called the local pediatrician whom I had never met to see if we could bring Nico in. We live approximately 7 minutes from the office and they were able to squeeze him in to see a doctor there. I will love forever the Weston Pediatric Group for their care of Nico and immediate action.

We were there in minutes, my dad had come along for a quick trip to the grocery store. No one could believe that this would be more than a bruise, at worst a dislocation. Then the bad news: the doctor told us that without an x-ray, it would be impossible to tell the damage. We were told to go to Boston Children's Hospital, possibly the best children's hospital in the land--there we would find pediatric orthopedic surgeons on call and if there was a worst case scenario, surgery would be at the same location.

We dropped my dad off back at home, and then BH and I (For those who don't know us from the last blog I call my Brazilian husband "BH" for security reasons. No, for privacy reasons. No, because I can) were off to Boston in 5:30 pm traffic with Nico. At this point, Nico seemed to be a bit better and was chatting non-stop--but it took us an hour to get to the emergency room. 

While there were not many kids in the waiting room, we were received quickly but waited almost an hour to get the x-ray done. The staff at the hospital were great and friendly and chatty with Nico. The news finally came back: the arm was fractured right above the elbow and slightly dislocated. The seemingly-teenaged orthopedic resident said that surgery would be necessary. It seemed likely that the surgery would not be until the next day (it was then 9 pm) but until that was decided, Nico was not allowed to eat or drink. He cried.

An hour later we found out that the surgery would be the next morning or early afternoon (there were six kids scheduled ahead of Nico). We got some food and drink into my son and BH volunteered (oh, all right, I didn't fight too much) to stay the night on the couch in his shared room. But before I left, it was time to put the IV into Nico. And that is when we brought down the house.

Oh yes, Nico hates needles. HATES. He also has a very loud voice. He screamed and screamed. Before the needle went in. Because when the actual needle went in after the numbing "bomb", he didn't even notice.  And he got an Air Force metal jet toy as a reward--perhaps subtly reminding us that his screams had broken the sound barrier. Shell-shocked, I drove home alone from the hospital at midnight.

I guess this has gotten more detailed than I had meant so I shall move swiftly onwards. Nico had his surgery at 9 am and was able to choose his cast color (camouflage) and will be in a cast for three weeks at least with three pins in his bone (I have elected not to tell him of the needles sticking out of his arm under the cast). So much for the summer plans of soccer and tennis camps and afternoons at the town pool.  The part I find most ironic? I am a crazy mom on kids in helmets on bicycles, on pony rides, careful on tree climbing, skiing, etc. My kid went down in the family room. 

Home we are. Nico is fine, in a low level of pain and learning to eat and draw with his left hand. His twin brother who suffered with Nico's absence (he slept in my bed during the one-night hospital stay) helps him carry the heavy cast, and puts food on his fork. We'll be fine, though this homecoming was not exactly how I planned. What is, really? 

What can possibly go wrong, indeed.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Isn't there something else we should be doing? - Winchester, MA

Swanton Street Diner in June. No, just kidding, snow was gone. Photo credit: hiddenboston.com
While my husband and I were in the Boston area in June, we were in Winchester, a lovely small town just north of Boston, to sign papers at the bank. After signing we had some time for lunch and trip-advisored up the Swanton Street Diner.

Any restaurant with "diner" in the name is pretty much predestined to be a good place (in my eyes, at least). A diner, for my non-American readers, is usually casual, usually has waitresses with little patience for the gab of introducing themselves as "I'll be your server today!" and serves non-complicated and good food quickly. I note that this definition has changed over time as Swanton Street had some fairly sophisticated food including Lobster Pizza (totally opposed to a crustacean on my pizza). I stuck with some delicious broiled scallops. How I miss scallops--you can't find them much here in Brazil and when you do, they are pre-frozen and cost as much as a small car.

Part of the menu. The weird part.
Anyway, as we were sitting there waiting for the food -- our waitress was definitely diner material--borderline rude (I'll go with "gruff") and harried, I looked up at the framed certificate over our head. Here it is (sorry about the bad quality, I was scared of the gruffalo coming back and catching me):

Let me summarize. The Massachusetts House of Representatives has "recognized" the diner for its "Felicitous arrival in Winchester, Flavorful Entrees and Fun-Loving Staff, for many years to come." Wait, the HoR took out time for the "entire membership" to extend its "very best wishes"...? Oh, come on, I know that they probably do 4000 of these a day, but really? Realllllly? They don't have something else they should be doing?  

On the other hand, do you think I could get one of these? Maybe they could write me a certificate for my "felicitous arrival" in the state of Massachusetts after 23 years of absence. Who do I write? Should I just show up at the State House? Hmmmm.

And in a final smile for me, under the gold seal, the document is signed by no other than "Sherman "Whip" Saltmarsh Jr".  You just can't make this stuff up.

PS. Loved the visit. Highly recommended if you find yourself in Winchester!