Back in Carlisle

We made it back to Carlisle, Waldo survived the marathon, and on Sunday we had a very, very brief family reunion. (Alma took the train down from NY and spent a few hours with us before having to head right back.) The first time we'd all been together since Christmas. Splendid!
When switching countries after an extended time it's impossible to avoid being comparative. I can't help it and I think I've written about this before. On this occasion, one of the little details that really struck was an observation I made at our local Comfort Suites, where we stayed Sunday night. The rooms at this hotel are quite large and very nicely appointed. By European standards you'd think you were in at least a four star hotel. The spaciousness and nice furniture were what you'd find in a five star hotel. So what's with the giant coke machine in the hallway? Then, at breakfast the next morning we have to serve ourselves with plastic plates, plastic utensils and paper cups for the coffee. I found the contrast rather startling. And what did we actually eat? Several carbohydrate options, including do-it-yourself waffles, that you could top with a variety of flavored corn syrup products. That's another very American characteristic: the idea that having "options" is absolutely requisite in every phase of life. But until you become used to this little cultural tic, it's terribly annoying. I better not get started... 
It rained last night here, what a wonderful sight! The lush vegetation is overwhelming. Also overwhelming is the sea of boxes that has occupied our house. Very slowly we are making progress. And trying to paint the living room at the same time. Help!