23 October 2007

It's Half-Term and I Hate Everyone

Okay, maybe not everyone, but everyone who should be wearing a school uniform and sitting in Geography classes, but is, instead, roaming the streets like the feral animals they've become in a mere two days.

You see, it's half-term this week and that means that the nation's juvenile riff-raff is out of school, running wild and existing in places where they shouldn't exist.

There are lots of programs on television at the moment about the sorry state of the educational system here. Why can't Gavin read? Because he's never in f@#$ing school, that's why! Apparently, it's too much for British schoolchildren to attend school for more than eight weeks at a time, so they are given half-term breaks three times a year, along with the usual holiday breaks for Christmas, Easter and Summer. Good grief.

Perhaps if the children here went to school for more than two months at a time, they'd get out of school before the last week in July. At any rate, they'd be in school this
week, instead of in my way, which is where they are now.

Today was Stitch 'n Bitch and our meeting place wasn't its normal haven, but the temporary evening haunt of a group of hormonally-challenged, teenaged, gum-snapping, trendy shitbags.

Yeah, I said it. Gum-snapping, trendy shitbags.

It had been a long day as a friend and I had already gone to (and left) Oswaldtwistle, where we attended our monthly beginner's patchwork class. Two competing high-maintenance pains-in-my-ass, one certifiable loon and an hour's drive later, all I wanted was a croissant and a hot chocolate and to put the finishing touches on a scarf that I have been knitting for what seems like two years.

It wasn't to be. My fate was to wait in a line - pardon me, a queue - behind a, frankly, indistinct gaggle of pubescent girls wearing too much make-up and wardrobed in a decidedly finite array of styles. They looked like quasi-animated Bratz dolls, except with skin the color of burnt sienna and the texture of chalk, thanks to too much fake tan and heavy-handed makeup applications. One of them looked like a Seville orange with Chrissie Hynde's hair tacked on; her smoky eyes - meant to evoke sultry adulthood - made her look like she'd tripped and fallen into coal dust. They were clumped together in a cloud of combating perfumes and lip gloss shades and clad in ridiculously similar (if not exactly the same) outfits. All while eying up immature, boy-band wannabes - complete with highlights that would make a circa 1982 George Michael proud - who were sitting in the back of the cafe, quacking their inane opinions at max volume.

I will be soooo happy when half-term is over.

But I'll only be happy for two months: the Christmas holidays are just around the corner.


Huzzah.

18 September 2007

DSW

In preparation for Milo's arrival, we had to "puppy-proof" the house.

It was an undertaking of larger-than-expected proportions. We never realized how dangerous our house was, since we're both adults, (generally) have complete control of our motor skills and (again, generally) know better than to chew on electrical cords.

There are few things that make me as happy as organizing something to within an inch of its life. I do so love the idea of creating a bucolic, orderly haven out of what was - quite recently - a chaotic, haphazard mess. So, it was with relish that I moved the oil-fired heater from the floor in the kitchen, instructed the husband to shore up all the small gaps in the garden fences and set to reorganizing our (how very American) walk-in closet.

Now, knowing that puppies like to chew and knowing that the husband would scream blue murder if our new puppy chewed his fantastically expensive shoes, I decided it was time for me to make my move and ask for shelves that I had been wanting for ages.

The problem? The shelves were at Ikea.

It takes a lot - and I mean a lot - to get the husband to go there. We're talking bribes and the promise of sexual favors here. A trip to the Swedish hell that is Ikea has a lot of stipulations attached to it: I have to know exactly what I want and it's better still if I know exactly where that thing is in the self-service aisles. It behooves me to know the color and the dimensions of said thing before we've left the house and I should be willing to push that heavy-goods cart with the one wonky, plastic-clogged wheel without making a fuss or running over the husband's schmancy shoes.

I also have to purchase Swedish fish for the drive home.

With my own money.

Still, he was no match for me.

I convinced him to go and to buy me shelves by pulling out his pair of cafe au lait-colored, butter-soft suede driving shoes from aforementioned expensive shoe shop and asked him to visualize them covered in puppy hair and drool, complete with teeth marks and holes.

I got my shelves.

I chose simple LACK shelves in the birch effect and we put them up the next day.

My closet now looks like this:






The blue thing in the frame is the first thing I ever knitted. And, yes, the thing in the window is a Manolo Blahnik shoe horn. I did tell you that he was schmancy.

Is it sad that I'm equally excited looking at my closet as I am thinking of eating those doghnut cupcakes?

I don't think so.

Not for one minute.

16 September 2007

Insert Homer Simpson-esque Drool Here

Those of you who know me know that I love cupcakes.

I mean... I well and truly love cupcakes.

I have the ability to fit an entire cupcake into my mouth - frosting, sprinkles and all. The ensuing frosting headache is absolutely, in no uncertain terms, always worth it.

Now, because it doesn't come up as often, you may not know I am also a big fan of the doughnut. To be specific, I am a big fan of the freshly baked doughnut. Those disgusting Entenmann things masking as doughnuts do not move me. Those "end-of-day, been-sitting-there-since-7 A.M., gettin'-love-from-no one" doughnuts don't have a place in my heart and Dunkin' anything makes me throw up in my mouth a little. But a freshly baked doughnut... oh the pleasure, the joy. You watch as they're taken out of the piping hot oil and laid suggestively on a rack or gently absorbent surface and then rolled indecently in sugar and/or cinnamon right in front of you. Arrrrr-rrrrr.

So, suffice it to say that I was deliriously happy to see this post on a blog that I frequent.

She makes me soooo very happy...

13 September 2007

There's Good News and There's Bad News

The bad news: I've already cleaned poop out of the car once today.

The good news: it wasn't my poop.

Honest.

It was Milo's poop. Milo. Our new puppy.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Milo!



In person, he is waaaaaaay cuter than that photo, but he's a wiggle-bottom and it was nearly impossible to get that photo, so you'll just have to suck it up.

Milo is a five-month old Havanese who likes playing with his toys, listening to Mozart and pooping in his crate.

Okay, I don't know for sure that he likes Mozart and we're working on the crate thing.

Welcome to the newest addition to our fur-baby family. So far, his cat-sister hasn't paid him the slightest bit of attention.

Wish us luck!

14 August 2007

The Death Report

My mother calls me periodically to let me know who amongst our family and friends has passed (or is in immediate danger of passing) away.

The conversation generally goes something like this:

Mom: Hi. How're you?
Me: I'm good, thanks. You?
Mom (deliberate pause): I'm tired. [Insert current nemesis' name here] is putting me through all kinds of changes.
Me (because I have no response to this): Mmm.

She is not insulted. This is not what my mother called to tell me about. This is incidental, the opening band, the prelim bout.

Mom: You know that little man that used to lived across the street from us?
Me: Uh-uh. I think I'd gone away to school by the time he moved in.
Mom: Oh. Well... you'll never meet him now. They found him dead in his house this morning. (Ding! Ding! KO'd in the first round of the Title fight.)

I used to respond by not responding. I would wait, in vaguely uncomfortable silence, for my mother to change the subject. She never did. She would just go on to the next item in the report.

I then tried the obvious: "Mom, I have no idea who you're talking about." I was trying to gently tell her that I wasn't disaffected, I was just confused. I didn't know who she was talking about and so wasn't able to generate the correct emotional response. I wasn't being mean, I was being what I was - unattached to a situation that had no real bearing on me. Sure, it was sad that someone had died home, alone (or by the hand of a cousin I had, heretofore, not known existed), but it was like losing Copernicus or "Touched By An Angel" - it didn't mean anything to me.

This tack didn't work. It was like explaining to a distant relative or stranger/friend of your parents, who hasn't seen you since you were very, very small, that you honestly don't remember them and that - without regression therapy - there is no way you're going to retrieve a memory from when you were two-and-a-half and they gave you an apple and you ended up with Granny Smith all over your face and you were just so cute and you couldn't say "thank you" properly so you said "tank-ooh." And that no matter how many times they say the words, "Remember, remember?" you won't remember.

Being unaffected was not excuse enough.

I wised up and changed tactics. I started giving her the desired - nay, required - and correct acknowledgment: "Oh, Mom. That's terrible. That poor little man."

And then we could move on.

Me: So, what else is new?

Now, you have to understand, the report doesn't actually have to involve death. Terminal and/or chronic illness will do just as nicely - as will pedophilia, drug addiction and general misfortune. And by family and friends, I mean random and sundry - people who may or may not be related to me, that I may or may not have met in my current incarnation or lifetime - from my mother's pastor's sister's friend to a woman who worked three floors down from my mother in the hospital where she worked for 31 years that I never actually met, but who knew me because she saw my Junior Prom picture and commented on how nice my dress was. All said in a breathless, mournful tone meant to elicit the response, " Oh, Mom. That's terrible..." Which, of course, now, it does.

To my mother's credit, there's no actual relish in her voice. I'm not saying it doesn't exist - that there isn't a little "Ha! There's another sucker I outlived" going on inside her head - I'm just saying that if it is going on inside of her head, she has the decency to keep it out of her voice. I'm just sayin'.

Sorry, gotta go. My phone is ringing.

"Oh, hi, Mom. What's up?"

22 July 2007

Saying Goodbye

In my head, I keep hearing that song by Art Garfunkel, All I Know. "Endings always come at last..."

I couldn't really empathize with a friend when she posted about the end of the Gilmore Girls. Having had a similar relationship with my own mother - save for the erudite repartee and the fashionable clothing - where I was often more mother than daughter, I never garnered the same affinity for that show. I always knew that there would come a time would I would have to take the parental role, but I expected that it would be later, rather than sooner, so I can't say that I... appreciated the Loreli character.

Tonight, at least, I can sympathize a bit more.

It's nearly 11 P.M. and I will try to get some sleep now. I know that my dreams will be filled with what did and did not happen in the very last volume of a book series that I desperately wanted to read, yet didn't really want to read because there would be no way to undo the end once it was done.

And now I've done it.

I've just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Ah, how I wish that Hogwarts really existed and that I could have been a student there. I think I would have ruled at Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts and I'd like to think that I would have been good at Spells and Charms, but I know that I would have sucked ass at Potions and History (I'm terrible at following a recipe and I still don't know when the War of 1812 took place; I always think it's a trick question, like how long did the 100 years' war last?).

I would have wanted to be in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. I would never, ever have been sorted into Slytherin. Ever. I probably would have fallen for Fred or George (boys who look like nerds, but with a wicked sense of humor and a penchant for trouble!! Oh my...). I
would have gotten at least one detention for knocking the crap out of Pansy Parkinson and I would have consistently lost my house points for talking back to Snape in class. I'm guessing that my mother would never, ever have let me go into Hogsmeade. Ever.

I know that it's not real. Still, I'd love to know how butterbeer, pumpkin juice and chocolate frogs taste. I'd also love to be able to perform an undetectable extension charm so that space in my
kitchen cabinets would never be a problem again. Mmm, just think: a flick of my wand and the laundry would be done.

I loved reading those books. And I learned to appreciate them for so much more than the escape.

I appreciated the writing of the series and how the level of it grew, along with the characters, over time. The vocabulary became more varied, the language stronger and more adult, the plots became more intricate and the characters more developed with each novel, in turn doing something so out of character that I could hardly believe that she wrote it in and then swinging back to do something that would bring the true nature of the character back into focus. It's much the same way we are in real life - duress, grief and unhappiness have a way of changing us all. I appreciated the way, around book (year) 4, Ms. Rowling stopped babying us through the key pieces of information (much the way a parent - a good parent - will do for you in real life). I was so
relieved when she stopped explaining recurring characters and situations for the uninitiated.

I'm going to miss those characters. I am going to miss the anticipation of a new installment, miss the little thump of excitement in my chest when I open that very first page. The movies don't do that for me. They don't satisfy,
can't satisfy, the way that the books do. The books are faithful and true, whole and untainted and they are always new...once. The movies can never do, never be that.

So, I raise a glass and say this: Goodbye and thank you, J.K., for letting me share in your - and Harry, Ron and Hermione's - journey. Thank you for bringing a bit of humor and intelligence to the subject, without miring yourself (or us) in the theological discussion that generally accompanies this type of thing. Thank for you making me wish that it was all real.

Thank you, most of all - and I mean this sincerely - for making me believe in magic.

Cheers!

20 July 2007

Open, Open, Open...

It's 11:52 and 32 seconds (33, 34, 35, 36...) and I'm off to the local book sellers to purchase Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Any guesses as to whether I will finish unpacking my suitcase? Whether the hall will get vacuumed? Dishes washed? Cat fed?

I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.

I asked my trusty Magic 8-Ball and it replied, "Outlook not so good."

And for the PETA-philes, don't worry. The cat will get fed, but only because I've filled her bowl to the very top.

She better pace herself.

27 June 2007

Hone Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

I am in the Boston Logan airport waiting for a flight into San Francisco, where Molly will pick me up and drive me to SJ.

It's a sweltering 92 degress Farenheit (33 Celsius) in Boston and the haze is so thick that I am stunned and surprised that flights are taking off at all.

Still, despite the 6-hour wait, I'm grinning from ear to ear.

I can hardly believe that I am back on home soil for two whole weeks. Two weeks. I'll get to see dearly-missed friends, my Dad, my stepmother, a cousin I haven't seen since her dad passed away...

I'm going to the Harry Potter movie on opening night and I get to eat buttered movie popcorn, not some bizarre combination of sweet-and-salted-and-stale. I'm dreaming of a hot dog that tastes like a hot dog and not a recently used condom filled with god-knows-what kind of parts-is-parts. Knowing me, I will manage to see more than one movie. Mmm, home...

I cannot wait.

07 June 2007

Hey Chel, I think I'm a Housewife

That line from the Michelle Shocked song Anchorage kept going through my head as I went about my daily chores yesterday. It was the only thing that my mind could wrap itself around to explain my feelings about the day.

You see, yesterday was glorious. The weather was absolutely beautiful when I woke up - bright, fine, radiant sunshine, hardly a cloud in the sky. I looked out the back bedroom window and nearly jumped for joy.

My thought: what a prefect day to peg out the laundry.

Argh!!

It is a moment that will live forever in my memory. It's the moment the I went over to the domestic darkside.

28 May 2007

A Meme? For Me? Shut Up!

I was tagged by my swap partner for the Hogwarts Sock Kit Swap (hiya, Welsh Dragon!).

I'd complain, but memes don't bother me. Save for that book one (it's 100 items long and I have no patience for what people will and won't read - it all has some value, even if only to let one know what one doesn't value), I think they can be funny and/or interesting - you learn something new about a person, perhaps about yourself. And besides, when bloggers complain about being tagged I cannot help but scoff. Someone finds you entertaining enough to want to know what you think about x and you get to talk about yourself. Face it, you blog, you like to talk about yourself.

The rules of this are that I am to tag seven other people and have them answers these questions on their blog. I can't bring myself to tag other people with the expectation that they will actually do this. Besides, I only know of one other person who hasn't done this. Oh, wait, I'll tag her!

With that said, here are seven random facts about me:
1. I was born left-handed. The woman who ran the daycare/nursery that my sister and I went to was from the South and thought the left hand was the devil's hand, so she wouldn't let me use it. I didn't know this until I was well into my twenties. When I was in my teens, my father made a comment about it, surprised that I was right-handed. At the time, I thought he was a loon. It was more than 10 years later when my mother told me the truth.

I can paint and eat
with my left hand as well as I do with my right hand, but to this day my hand "stutters" when I write.

2. I always put my left shoe on first. Always. If I put my right shoe on first, I don't feel comfortable and I have to take my shoes off and put them on again, left one first. This does not translate to anything else - pant legs, earrings, nothing - just my shoes.

3. I am famously, tremendously clumsy.

4. I am über arachnophobic. ALL spiders give me the heebie-jeebies: those creepy, fire engine-red, almost invisible ones to slow-moving, banana bunch-sleeping tarantulas - they all have the same effect. Someone once asked me what it was about spiders that I didn't like and I replied, "Because they've got eight spindly legs and they always look like they're up to something." And they do, too. They're always skulking about, hiding in corners, lurking in wood piles. I don't like it.

5. I don't drink soft drinks. It wasn't a conscious decision. I just woke up one morning and realized that I didn't like them. In the past 17 years I have probably had five or six soft drinks - and then, only because there was no other drink choice. I make an exception for Coke that is mixed with Lamb's Navy dark rum. I will drink a natural soda (basically juice with some carbonation), but I won't drink a regular, commercial soft drink if I have my druthers.

6. I have rented art.

7. When I sneeze I make a sound like a cartoon mouse. It sounds like I'm taking the piss, when that's really the way I sneeze. It, quite literally, stops people in their tracks. They will invariably smile and then say, "Well, bless you!" in an equally high-pitched, cartoon voice because they think I've done it for laughs. I haven't. Honest.

Bonus fact:
I have steered a crew (as in rowing) boat, a canal boat and an oil tanker. Seriously.

26 May 2007

Swap-Bot Ate My Life

Phew.

It's Saturday night and I am sitting down and I feel super guilty about it. I feel like I should be down on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor or outside in the dark turning over the soil in the beds in my back garden.

Downstairs, there are craft supplies all over my kitchen and front lounge. I am stumbling over boxes and packs of tissue and those bubble-wrap padded envelopes. My DVR only has 70% capacity left because I've set up program after program to record, but don't get the chance to watch them.

Upstairs, there are two piles of washing waiting for me: one that is desperate to be sorted and laundered and one that wants folding so badly it doesn't want to know what to do with itself. My toothpaste is still not in the medicine cabinet. My hair straignteners have been on the bathroom sink for three weeks. I cannot seem to fill the loo roll holder, so I keep taking them one-by-one from the 12-roll package.

Was that an over-share? Probably, but it illustrates the point. I have not been doing the things I need to do around the house. I don't answer e-mails in any sort of timely manner, I read but take days to respond to PMs and I rarely ever hear the text sound on my phone, so I answer all texts about 12 hours too late.

Why, you ask?

It's effin' Swap-bot, I tell you.

Swap-bot is both my Paradiso and my Inferno. In three weeks I've made 17 Artist Trading Cards, one scarf from Filatura di Crosa's Batuffolo Print and three handmade bookmarks (for which I developed a new design); learned to hand sew so that I could make hearts out of hand-dyed velvet, stuffing and lavender; put together three swap packages of mixed teas and a Tough Times package for a pen pal. I am currently, concurrently, working on four Thank You cards, two postcards covered in adjectives and one easy Wishlist swap.

Like I said, phew.

My neglected house and chores shame me. Now, people who know me know - given the opportunity - that I am, like, Monica Geller neat. I can't start to clean anything before I'm meant to be doing something else because. If I start, it won't be just a quick wipe and a sweep away, I'll end up using a toothbrush to get into the cracks and crevices and I will wear out a roll of those striped towels while using as much EcoSquirt as is environmentally-safe to use (which, considering it's an eco product, is a lot). So you can only imagine how the mess is wearing on me.

But, have no fear, it is slowly getting better. I am actually nearly a week ahead on swaps, I (decadently) vacuumed the floors and the kitchen (at least the floor is clean) and scoured the downstairs loo to within an inch of its life. Thanks to my SIL, my mock orange and aquilegia are in the ground, not in plastic garden centre pots, and there is lobelia instead of bare compost in one of my planters.

I'm getting there.

If I owe you e-mail, I swear I will answer. If I owe you a phone call, it'll probably be later this weekend or over the holiday. If it was a text, I promise you I'll check my phone (as soon as I charge it) and send you a reply (that will more than likely be a two-word reply or the word "okay" before I just end up calling you because it's easier for me than trying to work my cell phone while brain-numb).

Okay, lady, I love you, buh-bye.

I gotta go log into Swap-bot.

24 May 2007

Tumbling Dice

I was all set to post tonight, but I am going to go to bed instead.

This morning, at around 5 A.M., the mistress wanted to be let out and I got up to open the back door for her. I put my foot on the first step and it slipped out from under me. I never got the chance to put my other foot down.

I hit the top step with the better part of my coccyx and then slid - step by stair - to the bottom of the staircase, landing with a goodly thump on the hardwood floor at the bottom, in our front hall.

It seemed like a very long way down and I seemed to slide for a very long time. All I could think to say on my bumpy declension was, "Shit, shit, shit..."

I was able to stand and miraculously, not a thing was broken or sprained. I don't remember hitting my head or my scraping my hands, but now my neck hurts and I have the nagging sensation that usually accompanies carpet burns on both arms and the sides of both hands. My left thumb hurts. My back is stiff and it feels like I have a burn there, too. I cannot get the muscles in my right calf to loosen.

Still, if this is all I have to contend with after that fall, I consider myself lucky indeed.

I knew I wasn't going to die. Nothing flashed before my eyes - no tender moments, no past regrets, nothing - as I travelled. I was very much relieved until I realized that there could be more than one reason for that: either I wasn't going to die so there was no reason to do the highlight reel or I've been wasting my time.


I e-mailed the husband to let him know what happened and he told me to have the great British elixir - a cuppa - with sugar in it to help with the shock. What?! So, there is some basis of truth to Madame Pomfrey recommending chocolate to hurt or seriously scared persons. I sent a second e-mail to ask him that and if sugar would really help. He said, "Yes sugar in tea helps with shock. Put your Hogwarts uniform on then you'll feel better when you have your tea!"

Funny guy.

So, I'm off to bed with a glass of water and the miracle drug that is naproxen sodium.

The cat is outside for the night.

18 May 2007

Ex-Pativersary

It's official. I've lived in England for one year.

Did I say the thing about how time flies?

10 May 2007

Alone Again, Naturally

I've been on my own for a full week now. The husband has gone back to sea and it's just me and one wayward cat for the next four months. It's amazing how the time flies.

It's weird, too, because it seems as though the days have just passed and that I haven't done a thing this past week, but that couldn't be less true.

I've made 4 "Pink, pink and more pink" ATCs, 4 "Black & White" ATCs and learned to sew (sort of). I went to a meeting of the Altered Arts club (of which I was the only attending member that day), saw Spiderman, went shopping in Cheshire and Fleetwood, bought new bedding plants, two jasmine plants and a lavatera. I've been to Stitch 'n Bitch, a giant hobby store and the Wray Scarecrow Festival in (unsurprisingly) the small village of Wray.

This time last week, I was having a day of domestic responsibility. I spent almost the entire day going through the finances and bills, making sure that we're on track, adding all of the correct notations to my organizer, making the phone calls that needed to be made.

Honestly, I'd complain save for the fact that, thanks to British Telecom and the invention of the wireless network, I did all of this sitting outside at my table, which looks like this:


on a deliriously glorious day in my back garden, which looks like this:

Ah, and it's only Spring.

It's also hard to believe that in 8 short days, I will have lived in England for a year. 365 days. A whole year.

My, but how the time does fly.

30 April 2007

Hubris

I'll admit - before I even begin this post properly - that this post is pure, out-and-out boasting.

The woman who initiated the SnB group that I belong to is (fortunately for her, unfortunately for us*) selling her knitting shop. In an effort to make the transition easier for the new owner, she is very kindly selling the odd balls (called oddments here) off cheap.

When I say cheap, I mean cheap. Last Sunday we went by the shop to look through the yarn and I purchased two balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan for 50 pence each. Uh-huh, you heard me, 1-2-3-4-5-ifty pence. That's approximately 25 cents, for my U.S. friends that I am clearly taunting.

I bought it in this color:

Mmmm, chocolate...

I also bought a skein of Jaeger Alpaca 4-ply and a skein of Debbie Bliss cotton cashmere for the same price. I figure that I can either make fingerless gloves or add the last two to something else. They were just too good to resist.

Okay, I'll stop bragging now.

Back to regular scheduled programming...

25 April 2007

Power Struggles

In our house a war of wills is raging between the husband and the cat.

The two of them are constantly at odds - she wants him to read her mind (isn't that just like a woman?) and he wants her to be something other than the thing that attracted him to her in the first place (typical man).

I'm trying to remain as Swiss as possible. I mean, how can I take sides? Since I am currently... unapplied, he's keeping me in shoes and grilled cheese sandwiches and he's the one that gets up at 0-god-thirty to let her out when she needs the loo. It's hard not to see his point. But, look at her! How can you argue with that?!

Zoo, he can't read your mind. Nor can he smell the thing you can smell, so when you run up to him and mroowr that way and he looks at you like you're stupid and you look at him like he's stupid, neither of you are. He just doesn't get it. Mice and shrews he gets; they're self-explanatory. Random smells? Not so much.

Husband, she's a cat.

20 April 2007

The Zimmers

The husband is obsessed with this band.

I have to admit that the video is pretty good (and more than a little touching).

A DJ on BBC Radio 2 reckons that this song will go to number 1 on the charts. As an aside, more people have viewed this video than the original The Who video. [Note: I can't actualy vouch for that statistic. Someone told it to me and I am simply repeating it. If it's wrong, who cares, it sounds good.]

Old people are funny. Unless they're driving in front of you on a narrow one-track road. They're not very funny then.

18 April 2007

Flix

I blatantly stole this from TiggerLarue

The Movie Meme
1. Name a movie you have seen more than 10 times.
You won't believe me... French Kiss.

2. Name a movie you've seen multiple times in the theater.
Lord of the Rings (all of them).

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.
I'm ashamed to say, James Spader.

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.
Jennifer Jason Leigh. I just hate her.

5. Name a movie than you can and do quote from.
Steel Magnolias ("I make it a point to never deal with my wife.")

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.
Godspell

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.
West Side Story

8. Name a movie you would recommend everyone see.
Shaun of the Dead. It's funny and scary in all the best ways and I love that about that film. Also, The Station Agent - Peter Dinklage is amazing!

9. Name a movie that you own.
(Le Fabuleux destin d') Amélie (Poulain)

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.
Tim McGraw. Call me crazy if you want to, but I dare you to watch Friday Night Lights and not be impressed by the transformation.

11. Have you ever seen a movie at a drive-in? If so, what?
Yes. I think it was one of the Back to the Futures, but for the life of me, I don't know. There was drinking... and flirting...

12. Ever made out in a movie?
Yep. And that's all I have to say about that.

13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven't gotten around to it yet.
Monsoon Wedding

14. Ever walked out on a movie?
Nope. You just don't know how many times I've wished that I had that gene.

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.
Brokeback Mountain. However, the hardest I have ever cried was on a plane watching This Is My Father. It may have been because we were on a French-Canadian airline, though. Let's just say it was the movie.

16. What was the last movie you saw in the theater.
300. It freakin' ruled.

17. What is your favorite/preferred genre of movie.
Don't have one. I prefer 'good' over 'genre.'

18. What is the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
Star Wars

19. What movie do you wish you'd never seen?
Bridget Jones' Diary. I was stupider when it was over. That pissed me off. I'm still holding a grudge against the person who recommended it. He knows who he is.

20. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

21. What is the scariest movie you have seen?
Showgirls

Alright, alright... if I'm being serious, The Exorcist. To this day, I can't even watch the trailer.

22. What is the funniest movie you have seen?
Rushmore. Without a doubt.

01 April 2007

A Crisis of Faith

This last week has been one of frustration, mingled with ennui. And flu.

I've been what's termed "poorly" here. It started last week and has just borne real fruit this weekend (Friday really) - sinus infection, sneezing, pressure behind the eyes, headache, achy, seriously tired. I wasn't as bad last weekend, and expected this weekend to be much the same. Sadly, I was wrong.

It's been three days since I've been out of my pj's long enough to do anything other than change a key piece of clothing so that I don't smell as bad as I look. It's been more days than that since I've been outside my front door.

In addition to this, I am having trouble with my crafting.

I had the same problem last year, right before we moved, when I felt that my desires and my desired projects far exceeded my skill set. Worse, due to some mitigating circumstances, I was forced to reckon with my growing collection of craft supplies and came to the conclusion that I have more accoutrements than I have talent.

I participated in an ATC swap on swap-bot and I struggled. The theme was "black and white only" and, though it sounded like exactly the sort of theme that I could work, none of the ideas that I came up with seemed to work. I couldn't convince myself that the ideas and the cards that I liked best would be well received. I didn't want my swap partners to be disappointed when their ATCs arrived, but I was disappointed in them when they went out. I hope that spirit doesn't follow my cards and that the recipients do like them, but I can't help feeling that I let my swap partners down.

Worse, still, I keep trying - and failing - at knitting project after knitting project. I tried Fetching from Knitty... I tried felting a small clutch from the One Skein book... I thought about doing the Irish Hiking Scarf from Hello Yarn. It was only after I started Fetching that I remembered that I don't know how to knit in the round with double-pointed needles. Nor do I know how to cable. Hrrumph. I knitted the clutch and my seaming was better than it had ever been (thanks, kiddo; you know who you are), but the felting was a complete and total disaster - the piece never fully felted, it shrunk like all get out, but some of the stitches were still visible. I'd like to blame it on my front-loading machine, but everyone here has a front-loading machine and lots of people felt. So I moved on to the Irish Hiking Scarf. It was then that I remembered, after printing the pattern and sitting down to knit, that I still didn't know how to cable. Bugger.

And just to wholly deflate my already sagging ego, I surfed over to knit-one-one and realized that Punk Rawk Purl, whom I greatly and dearly admire, learned to knit a mere two months before I did and is now teaching classes, rather than sitting around of a weekend lamenting her abject lameness.

How do some people's skills get that far ahead, that fast? Is it because they knit every day? Are they inherently better at it?

Urgh.

So, this weekend, I have practiced making bobbles and am teaching myself to cable without a cable needle via Grumperina's tutorial.

I am determined to get past this.

I know, I know... I will. I'm just having a small quandary.

In my head, I hear Chevy Chase as Ty Webb telling me, "Just let it happen. Be the yarn. Be the yarn, Danny."

22 March 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean 4

...Curse of the Knit/Purl

Holy freakin' moly. This is why knitters get no respect.

20 March 2007

Brick

If it means what I think it means, I want Molly's brick.

15 March 2007

My Real Personality

I remember seeing a greeting card once where a cartoon woman, lamenting the true nature of the monthly feminine monster said, “My biggest fear is that PMS doesn’t exist and that this is my real personality.”

It’s a genuine fear.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t get a heads-up that my “friend” is coming to visit. One moment I'm fine and the next I'm doubled over in pain and begging someone - anyone - to get me pills, a hot water bottle and something (anything) that contains whiskey, honey and lemon.

And so it was this afternoon. At lunch, after a shopping trip to Helen Bateman in Edinburgh, it started. We were sitting in a restaurant waiting to order and I started to feel funny... that special kind of funny – my stomach started to hurt, only it wasn't my stomach exactly, it was just south of that and it’s not so much hurting as it is aching, dull and constant and making me feel more ill at ease than sick.

That’s how it makes me feel – uncomfortable in my own skin, aching in places where the pain doesn’t actually exist, overly sensitive (sound, movement, everything) and I really, really need to be under a comforter, out of the way of everyone with a woobie and a drinkie. The confined space of an Audi A3 is not the place to experience the height of your PMS throes.

I tried willing myself to sleep (it worked when my mother took me to the drive-in to see Blacula when I was a very small child). I tried turning off the radio, but then I could actually hear the husband rustling in a plastic bag retrieving and chewing his Haribo Tangfastics (which, strangely, didn’t bother me when I was helping him eat them on the way up). I tried staying awake with the radio on and watching the road, but then I could feel every, single movement of the car, fret about the curves and how severe they would be before we actually took them and make them into a bigger deal than they actually were. And this is from someone who does not get motion sick. Mind you, all of this was happening in my head since I wasn’t saying it out loud for fear of sounding like a neurotic, overly-sensitive nutter who also happens to be experiencing period pain.

The husband didn't seem to be properly sympathizing. It's because boys don’t go through things like this. I wish they did. If men experienced PMS, it would be legal to take ketamine and drink in the car once a month. And it would be a paid day off.

12 March 2007

Are You Being Served?

On Saturday past, my friend and her mother took me to a new yarn shop in North Yorkshire.

It was a beautiful drive through the Yorkshire Dales on a day that should have been rainy and dull, but was instead bright and brisk, with very little rain (that didn't start until we left an excellent little cafe where we were served warm scones with warm Yorkshire butter and fresh strawberry jam; Ahhh, my mouth is watering just writing this!).

The shop was a gem - Noro as far as the eye could see and the first skeins of Colinette that I have seen since I've been in the UK (strangely). Mrs. Scott had scarf and throw kits (I do so love a throw kit) with Colinette, Noro or Debbie Bliss yarns; there were pattern books that I hadn't seen the likes of since I went to Stash in London.

I purchased all the wool I would need to complete the Lizard Ridge throw from the Fall 2006 issue of Knitty. I chose silk Garden for a softer throw and was (more than a little) relieved to be able to give up my quest for 21 skeins of Noro Kureyon in 21 different colorways that would be vibrant enough to liven up an espresso-colored sofa, but not too garish. I was very pleased with my purchase.

I arrived home and was showing the husband the color that I'd chosen when I noticed that the skein I had in my hand was a different color from the next skein in the bag. In fact, it was a different color from all of the other skeins in the bag. It was, in point of fact, a different color from all of the skeins in the other bag as well.

Well, shit.

As the shop was so far away, I panicked for a moment, called my friend that I had been with earlier to tell her what happened and then decided that since the shop was now closed (and would be until Monday) there was nothing to do but wait.

Sooo, this morning, I called the shop and spoke with Mrs. Scott. She was as perplexed as I was as to how the mistake could have happened and seemed to be somewhat at a loss what to do. No worries, I said, we (the husband and I) would drive back up there today to exchange the yarn. As it was unexpectedly a nice day, with rain yet threatened for later in the week, there was no use in us just sitting in the house today. Off to the Yorkshire Dales we went.

I expected to get there, exchange the yarn, grab a meal in one of the nearby cafes and then head home. I expected the shop proprietor to be slightly apologetic, give us the yarn and see us on our way. Instead, she went over the shade cards with us to make sure that we had exactly what we needed/wanted, left us alone as we had a quick browse around and then, to my delight and surprise, she gifted me with a skein of Colinette Jitterbug in the Sahara colorway and a set of Brittany DPNs. Nice! She said it was for our trouble at having to come back to the shop.

Now, that's what I call customer service.

11 March 2007

You Know You're Tired When...

You're frantically searching the restaurant booth for your keys and you're holding them in your hand.

Sigh.

28 February 2007

Stitching ‘n Bitching

I’ve been chastised for not writing about my knitting group here. It's not that I was ignoring them or intended any slight. Though the ladies in the group have been an integral part of me adjusting to life here in the UK, I just hadn’t thought that a bunch of old grannies and few (nearing) middle-aged knitsters (including myself) would be of interest to anyone but me. The truth is, though the knitting may not be, the women certainly are.

I wasn't even aware of it myself until today: they’ve been more of a help than I’d known.
Monday was a horrible day. Normally I enjoy my trip to London – a train journey that allows me to read or knit uninterrupted, a chance to visit Café Macchiato and have a buffalo mozzarella and tomato sandwich on the softest, most perfect ciabatta I’ve had outside of Italy, a quiet sit outside Euston station where I choose between honey-roasted cashews and pecans and a Belgian chocolate brownie to have with my vanilla latte before boarding the train and then a nap or a read on the way back home. Monday I did not enjoy my trip.

On the train on the way up I had a woman next to me who wouldn’t sit down for more than two minutes at a time because she kept standing up to talk to her family in the set of seats in front of us and then super-lonely guy, on the way back, who needed to continuously talk on his cell phone (even though the phone kept dying and he had to keep redialing whoever it was he was annoying besides me) who spoke so loudly that I could hear him even with my earphones in and The Stone Roses up as loud as I could get them without giving myself a migraine. Un-fucking-believable.

I missed the first train I intended to take so I had no time between the time I arrived at Euston and the time I needed to be at the salon to make it to the shop I wanted to go to. My stylist was running behind schedule, which she never does, so she finished my hair at 6 instead of 5, so I still didn't get to the one shop I needed to get to before heading back to the station for my train home, which, by the way, I missed because I'd walked to a shop that was already closed. Shit.

I had fast food for dinner (which I am pretty sure that I gave up for Lent, but it was that or powdered toast when I got home at 11 p.m.) and my husband was late picking me up from the station,
while the train was slightly early, so I stood around outside in a town that is normally about 2 degrees cooler and 20% windier than the town we live in. Bollocks!

As one can imagine, I was not a happy bunny when I arrived home. I went (almost) straight to bed, slept nearly completely through the night (I am like an infant when it comes to sleep. I usually have to pee in the night, but since I don’t have the luxury of weeing in pants and having someone clean up the mess in the morning, I have to get up, which I loathe) and then woke up this morning feeling what my friend describes as pants. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with feeling crappy, which very accurately characterized how I felt. I was tired and cranky and in no mood for anyone today. The post arrived bringing the yarn that I'd won on eBay, but was the wrong color because the shtooopid woman that listed it listed it as one color when it was really another (and, mind you, the numbers were not close - 167 instead of 154, urgh!) and I already had that color so I was miffed, irascible, droopy-eyed and feeling "pants" before I even reached the kitchen for coffee. Which, much to my chagrin, hadn't yet been made. Damnit!

Can you say, “Stay away from the crazy lady. Awoo-gah, Awoo-gah, this is not a drill! I repeat, this is not a drill! Dive, dive, dive!” ? Yes, I thought you could.

Even my ever-placid cat took one look at me, headed straight for back door to wait for me to open it and, when I did, went promptly out of it. Screw the rain - she preferred to sit outside. I imagine her telling the other neighborhood cats over a catnip toy they were passing around, “It’s either get wet or deal with my human, and I make it a point to never deal with my human.”

Needless to say (but I'm going to anyway), I was in no mood for a 15-mile drive that would take me 40+ minutes. I intended to skip Stitch ‘n Bitch because I feared that I would be less of a stitch and more of a bitch and that that wouldn’t be good for anyone. But, as I'd arranged to meet someone there to talk about bears (don’t ask!), I felt obligated to go. My friend, the closest friend I have here in the UK, sent me a text to say that she wasn't coming and that made me even less inclined to go. Sigh.

Going was the best thing that I could have done.

I arrived at our usual meeting place to see another friend and her beautiful little grandson, who has one of those sweet, little kid voices [made all the better for his little English accent (I know, I know, I’m the one with the accent)]. He had a brand new fire truck and was on his way home with his nan to get some supper and, more importantly, extricate his new toy from its box. He said a dulcetly high-pitched "bye-bye" to me and, as they left, more of the group started drifting in, including the friend I wasn’t expecting to see! I had lemon drizzle cake and a small vanilla cappuccino and a good old natter while we knitted. Another friend showed up late, but she sat near me and kept me in stitches (pardon the pun) the entire time. It's been a long time since I laughed so easily and comfortably with a group of people. I wasn't the new American girl anymore, I was part of the gang. I got invited to a birthday party (it’s for a 6-year-old, but, hey, it’s an invite) and I made plans with two of the girls to make plans for a girls’ night out. Excellent.

By the time I'd left, I felt more like I used to - social, included, happy.

I needed that. I needed them.

Thanks for taking me under your wings, ladies, and for making me one of your own - even if it's only for an hour, every Tuesday night.

It’s midnight now, and I am going to have to post this tomorrow because the steamer that the husband is using to strip the wallpaper off the walls in the upstairs bedroom just tripped the breaker that controls all of the sockets in the house.

And you know what? I don’t even care. I’m going to go eat half a tub of Cinder Toffee ice cream so that it doesn’t melt and call it serendipity.


Yum.

23 February 2007

A Grand Day Out

As you well know, I did not have high hopes for the day. Before I went to bed last night there was no sign of having anything to look forward to but boredom and wallowing in self-pity.

Ha! The universe has its way with me again.

Today we went to Harrogate – a beautiful little village to the southeast of the Yorkshire Dales – for my birthday day out. It was fantastic, and not just because I got two new pairs of leather-lined boots!

Instead of the promised rain, the weather was mild and brisk and very pleasant indeed. In fact, the only rain we saw was from the inside of the Old Bell Tavern as we drank pints of Timothy Taylor and glasses of Lamb’s Navy rum and Coke (with lots of ice), refreshing ourselves after a hard day of shopping and eating.

We had a gorgeous* lunch at the Loch Fyne Restaurant in Harrogate and then a walk around the village. We ventured into a men’s shop that sold men’s clothing tailored in a traditionally English way and the husband bought an exquisite pair of handmade boots. He is as much of a shoe who-ore as I am.

We headed back to the town centre** and bought currant scones for tomorrow morning and lemon tarts (to serve as my birthday cake) from Betty’s Tea Room. Oh, the lemon tarts… They were exceptional – the perfect balance of sweet to tart, the kind that gives you that momentary flush from the tart, but none of the cloying taste of the "too sweet." Mmm, mmm, delish. It's a shame that we only bought the two because we both devoured them in record time (after a proper dinner, of course). I’ll be missing mine about an hour from now.

We wandered up a winding side street to burn a few calories and check out some of the shops off the beaten path, where we happened upon a killer shop called Velvet Rose - a smallish shop packed to the gills with the girliest of girly wares. The racks were sagging from the weight of organza, rumpled linen, velvet, rose-shaped brooches that wouldn’t be amiss on a woman from a Dickens novel and skirts fit for a Gibson girl - bustle and all! It’s exactly the sort of clothing I love and exactly the sort of clothing that makes me look like an ottoman with legs (which is why I never wear that kind of clothing). They also had a fa-hab-u-lous pair of brown leather boots with a four-inch heel and electric blue trim around the seams. These do not make me look like a walking ottoman, which is why they are now mine to stroke and yours to covet. Of course, with each step I hear Molly McGee's voice telling me, "lean way back on your heels." Hopefully I don't look like a clydesdale or an ottoman.

The husband and I went into another shop so that I could point out the ridiculous price tag on a Chloe handbag. I was so smug. I ended up with a second pair of boots. They are spectacular. Fortunately, they were of a price that we mere mortals could pay and the husband bought them for me as an extra birthday present. Awww…

With the shops and teahouses closing, we headed off to the Old Bell Tavern for a quick drink to relax for a bit and wait out the Friday night traffic. It was a proper pub with old, french-polished wood and real ales (9 to 12 percent alcohol content; none of this namby-pamby 4 or 5 percent) and locals throwing back a pint before heading home or off to a restaurant for their evening meal. I made a friend of the woman next to us as she admired our shopping prowess and I got to pet a sweet, if overly excitable, cocker spaniel who was hanging out with his (human) mates before walkies.

After a quiet drive home, we arrived to find a second bouquet of flowers (the first was from hubby this morning before we left) and cards and a sweet little package from my in-laws and nieces. I ate my butter chicken with vegetable naan from the Indian take-away and opened my e-mail to find a haul of e-cards from friends.

Like I said, "Awww..."


Even though I’m far away, I felt (for a moment) like I was home.

So, before I can miss my lemon tart, I’ll head for bed – with a smile on my face, humming “Happy Birthday To Me” – and know that it was a good day.

Thanks to everyone who made it happen.

Mmwah!

* The British are fond of describing food with words like beautiful and gorgeous. They don't use arcane vernacular like delicious or tasty. Interestingly, scrummy is a perfectly viable adjective.

** They spell words that end in "er" like the French ("re"), for which you can be legally† drawn and quartered if you point it out to them.

† I'm not sure if it's legal, but they will‡ draw and quarter you if you point it out.

‡ Okay, they won't, but they will think about it.

22 February 2007

Gonna Party Like It's My Birthday...

Not.

Tomorrow is my 39th birthday.

Thirty-nine.

It’s hard to believe that I am damn-near 40 years old. Another year closer to being dead and no years closer to being the person that I always thought I’d be.

That’s a damn shame.

The problem is that I still don’t know what it is that I want to be when I grow up. The bigger problem is that I need to figure it out pretty damn quick since I am awfully, awfully close to being grown up. This, too, is a damn shame.

What a difference a year makes... This time last year I was surrounded by friends, living in a place that I knew well (and really, really liked) and I was a contributing member of society. I had a job and a social life and solid plan for my birthday. Last year I went to lunch with friends almost every day of my birthday week and had phô and chocolate cake and ahi tuna sandwiches - all within walking distance of my office.

This year, I am sitting up at nigh midnight looking up possible day trips for tomorrow - somewhere to go so that I don’t end up sitting in the living room watching a marathon of "True Hollywood Story" on E! Entertainment Television or reruns of "Two and a Half Men" while stuffing myself with bowl after bowl of Cinder Toffee ice cream and swigging hard cider from the bottle to keep from feeling sorry for myself; something to do other than clean the front room and try to put craft supplies and a hundred tech gadgets and their various peripherals into spaces that don’t exist.

There’s no solid plan for what to do tomorrow - just a bunch of suggestions, some self-pitying mewling from myself and a few half-hearted attempts by the husband to come up with a day plan. This is pissing me off. I love my birthday.

My stepfather and a good friend of mine prefer natal anniversary to birthday. My SIL asks me if I’m “x again” each time age comes up. Well, none of that horseshit for me. It’s my freakin’ birthday and I am 39. I am not coyly pretending to be some age other than the one that I've worked damn hard to reach, nor am I am couching the word "birthday" in gentler terms. I am happy to age. The alternative does not bear thinking about at the moment. I just want to celebrate my birthday.


I’d rather intended to write about how much tomorrow was going to suck since I was going to miss talking to my stepmother (who never fails to remember my birthday), but she called me this afternoon to wish me happy birthday and to talk to me before she boarded a plane to San Diego to see my sister’s 20-year Retirement ceremony from the Marines (Semper Fi!) and my older sister sent me an iCard from Apple.

Could it be a happy birthday after all?

06 February 2007

A Tale of Two Mornings

Last Friday, my world looked like this:



This morning, it looked like this:

And this:
And this:

It's night now and it is -2.78°, that is below f!@#ing freezing, thanks very much.

Winter is in full swing here and for the most part it's beautiful - cold, but beautiful.

Wish you were here?

05 February 2007

Ecover Squirt

My life these days seems to be a never-ending series of Sisyphusian tasks. Cook a meal, clean the kitchen, cook meal, clean kitchen, cook, clean, sunset, sunrise, repeat.

No sooner do I finish sorting a drawer, cabinet or room does something need to be mended in - or removed from - said drawer/cabinet/room. Everything that was in there needs to be shifted to some other drawer, cabinet or room, and this means rearranging everything that used to exist in that space to some other space. Arrrrrggggggggggh!

I'm reminded of an ex-boyfriend's mother who had a mastectomy and directly after her surgery she and her husband remodeled their kitchen. I remember her obsessing over really small details and parts of the process. Kitchen cabinet knobs became the thing. Should they be football shaped or moon shaped? If moon-shaped, should they be crescent moon or new moon shaped? Her husband and son became increasingly frustrated with her, wanting her to make what they felt was a simple decision.

I, on the other hand, completely sympathized.


Obsessing, er... focusing, on something that you can control - no matter how small - alleviates the need to focus on the real thing, the serious thing, the thing that's too big for your tiny, crazed, brilliant mind to encompass.

My...focus... is always cleaning some minute part of a room that is, otherwise, completely covered in crap. At the moment, that describes my entire house. People who know me will know that this is not a comfortable state of affairs for me. So, tonight it was the bottom shelf of a bookshelf. I got down on the floor on my hands and knees, sprayed the shelf with cleaner and then scrubbed the thing within an inch of its life. Behind me, there is an ottoman covered in sheet protectors filled with embellishments for card making and scrapbook pages, a furry alpaca pillow that has yet to find a home in any of the chairs that we own, my knitting bag that is (quite literally) overflowing with yarn and knitting accoutrements and a plastic storage container that has various archival adhesives in it.

My bookshelf shelf is gleaming. I could eat my evening meal off of that thing. Do I care that can't see the floor in the rest of the room? You bet your sweet ass I do. I am, however, choosing to ignore it.

Ooh, wait, look, there's a speck of dust left on the back edge. Let me just get that...