Friday, July 24, 2009


One of the oddest things about life right now is the disruption of daily rituals I've adopted over the last three years. Living as a family guest has me accommodating their habits and preferences, subordinating my own.

That's as it should be, of course, but it's not without effect.

My wife and I rise at 5am, as usual, but we sip coffee and watch local news in the kitchen, not in our bedroom, keeping the TV's sound at a barely audible level. Once she's off to work, I retreat to my office in the basement of the house, where I must be relatively silent for several hours lest I wake the occupants of the bedroom directly above me.

And it's chilly down here -- not damp, but meat-locker cold. It's July, for cryin' out loud, and I'm wearing a fleece jacket and thick socks around the house. Our gracious hosts like it this way.

We do get to eat a home-cooked meal every night, which is something we haven't done regularly in a couple of months. I'm looking forward to making culinary contributions soon, and at that point I'll be bringing some much-needed flavors and spices to the table.

More chile peppers, naturally. More garlic (and I don't mean powder). Fresh-ground black pepper, real cheeses and whole-grain bread baked daily at the shop down the street.

None of this is meant to damn the hospitality we're enjoying -- we're grateful, and these are small prices to pay for having a place to live while we regain our footing. I'm simply saying it the way it is.

As my family and I get situated, I'm mindful that we also need to revise our preparedness plans. Even though we're making only a five-mile move, our approach must change.

The layout of this house is different, so our escape routes will be different. Likewise our "safe places" and where we store what we need to prepare, defend and survive. We're getting there, inasmuch as living out of boxes allows.

Outside these walls is new topography, both natural and man-made, along with a new set of threats and resources. Criminal activity is closer and more recent. The commercial and residential landscapes are very different, and in some ways better.

So we'll assess and adapt -- it's what we do anyway, really. It makes for an interesting (and ongoing) challenge.