25 January 2007

Ward 35

We went to visit my MIL today in hospital. She had a mastectomy this afternoon.

She was cheerful enough when we went to visit and much like herself - she wanted a sherry, so we were pretty sure that she was fine.

I have to admit that I was concerned. I wasn't sure what it would be like when we visited her. A breast is so much part of being a woman that I was unsure - even for myself - how it would be to see her after she had one of hers removed.

I don't know what I would do. Sometimes I have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror now. One doesn't always love what one sees. I can't imagine what it would be like to look down and see a scar where my breast used to be and know that it had been taken by something so very far beyond my control.

It's such a dirty thing, cancer. You want to whisper it, like the mother in "Saint Elmo's Fire." It's not something that you can just say "get well soon!" to or something that they have greeting cards for. I mean, it's not like you can run over to Papyrus and pick up a card for cancer patients with pithy little sentiments like "Hope your cells don't spread!" on it.

My MIL wants to go to her own home afterwards. I guess she wants to take her time getting used to the "new" her in a quiet and (I think, maybe) controlled environment. I wish that my SIL would let her do just that. If it were me, I know I'd want some time to myself - time to wallow if I needed it, time to adjust - without the hustle and bustle of someone else's house, someone else's schedule.

Well, until you get back home and can sit in front of the fire and have a glass of sherry yourself, mum, I'll have one in you honor.

My thoughts and prayers - and for the moment, my liver - are with you.


22 January 2007

Who's Afraid of Victoria Beckham?

Tom Cruise is. Or he should be.

It's cold here. Cold.

Currently it's 3º here now. I'm not sure if that's the high or the low for today, but roughly 37º is low for me, no matter how you look at it. Tomorrow, the high will be 2º and the low is slated to be 0º.

Like I said, cold.

Still, not as frosty as the reception that Mrs. Beckham apparently gave Tom Cruise when he offered her husband an intro all that is wrong and unholy.

Unlike 99.9% of people in the UK, I knew there was a reason to like her.

19 January 2007

And They Call the Wind...

Okay, okay. So it's midnight-thirty and I am not in the bed. But for good reason tonight. I've stayed up a little while longer so that I write this post.

All the world seems to be experiencing weird weather...severe weather. And the northwest of England was no exception.

My SIL, my niece and I headed out to Preston to do some shopping - they were getting outfits for a wedding and I wanted a Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker. Ridiculous, I know, but true.

Well, the wind last night was definitely what one would call "howling." You could hear it through any small crack in the house - through the windows, through the doors - it was awful. The shopping trip was planned for today (yesterday) and I was thinking of calling them to tell them that I didn't want to go. I was sure it wouldn't be much fun in that kind of weather.

When you're right, you're right.

We were only out for about 4 hours, and that includes travel time. It was horrific.

I talked my SIL into parking a bit closer today, thinking that fighting the wind would be un-amusing. When you're right...

We shopped in one store, where we were all unsuccessful in our endeavors, so we headed up the high (main) street to try our luck in some other shops. Big mistake. We three were windblown and disheveled before we got to the corner of the one block that we walked - our lips were chapped, our cheeks had the blush of the wind-worn; we were not cute. All the while, my niece and I were dreaming of Starbucks and warmth and Belgian chocolate brownies (as a reward for suffering through whinging and moaning as my SIL found nothing that she either liked or wanted in shop after freakin' shop. In point of fact, she probably wasn't moaning. The niece and I were just bitter and stinging from the fact that my SIL wouldn't let us be our own worst enemies and eat fudge- and caramel-filled donuts, even though we really, really wanted them).

As we walked back towards four-pump vanilla latte goodness, we noticed that there was a rather extensive and disturbing police presence along the high street. We thought, "Robbery" (there are a bunch of jewelry stores on that street), then we thought, "Heart attack" (there were a bunch of old people walking around in gale force winds being blown into the sides of buildings, so sue us), then we noticed that there was rubble in the street next to a brick building and we thought, "Shit! There's rubble from a brick building in the street." It was then that we noticed how all of the shops were shut and that police were waving us away from the doors in an effort to save us from potential falling tiles and flying Accrington brick. But they were also shooing me away from my beloved latte-brownie fix and my niece away from matte perfection. Not fair. It was so close. We could see it.

And so the bitching began. We couldn't go back into the store we wanted to go into, my SIL and niece couldn't get their make-up and I couldn't have caffeine - it wasn't going to be good for anybody.

We complained all the way back to the car. We complained all the way home in the car. We complained while we drank instant coffee in the kitchen after we got out of the car.

And then we saw the news.

Nine people died as the UK was pummeled by storms from one end of
the country to the other. There were 78 MPH winds, ferry services were cancelled, train services were suspended and flights were indefinitely delayed in nearly every major airport (with flights already in the air being lucky to land at all). Trees were felled, piers and seacoasts were battered by walls of water and roads were covered in water, snow or sand.

I'm sorry, what were we complaining about again? I couldn't have a designer coffee? My niece and SIL couldn't have new Nars foundation? Seriously, what is wrong with us?!

My SIL's house escaped relatively unscathed (a few roof tiles missing) and our house went untouched - all roof tiles, windows and cats accounted for (though our front and back garden fences didn't fare quite as well, as there is one small section missing from each). The same couldn't be said for everyone.

I'll have to make a better check of the house and the garden tomorrow when it's light.

For now, the wind has died down and it's quiet outside.

Forecast for Friday: light rain and westerly winds of about 10 MPH. That's much better than it's been.

Still, poor little pup.

16 January 2007

Twenty-Four Hour Shopping...Rapture

It's 1 AM and I just returned home from grocery shopping (god bless the 24-hour Megalomart).

It's no secret that I need to go to sleep. I went to the grocery store for some sleep tabs. Did I get them? No. They were out of the ones that I wanted. Mind you, they had something called Kalms, but I couldn't buy them because I distrust any product (or establishment, for that matter) that feels that substituting a K for a C is a responsible solution to branding. In case you're wondering, it's not.

I went for one thing...one thing.

Instead of sleep tabs, I got:
  • 6 Bottles of Still Water
  • Alaskan Salmon Filets
  • Venison Steaks
  • Asparagus Tips
  • Red Bell Peppers
  • 18 Rolls of Toilet Tissue (half price!)
  • Cherries
  • Dried Fruit
  • Pineapple Chunks
  • Blackberries
  • Organic Blueberries
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Rare-Breed, naturally pastel-colored Eggs
  • Goat's Milk Yogurt
  • Potato Chips (Mature Cheddar and Caramelized Onion)
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • Organic Brown Sugar
  • 2 Pains Au Chocolat
  • 1 Pecan Plait
  • A Cutlery Tray, Dish Drainer and Laundry Hamper
  • A Nail Cleaner and Compact Mirror
  • 2 Shoe Boxes (with lids)
  • A Clothes Airer
  • A Bouclé Door Mat
  • and
  • 5 Bags for Life (plastice, reusble, bags that Tesco will replace for life for free)
I went for one thing.

For some weird reason I am reminded of Johnny Depp in that episode of 21 Jump Street where his girlfriend gets shot during a convenience store robbery and he obsesses over the number of things that he can do in the same amount of time it took the whole thing to happen. I'm obessed with the number of hours, minutes, seconds of sleep that I can get if I go to bed right now or, in turn, all of things that I could accomplish in that same amount of time. Would that I knew how to plaster and wallpaper. Or sew. How I wish now that I'd bought the Rosetta Stone DVDs - I'd be nigh to fluent in Italian by now.

Later today my sister-in-law and I are accompanying my mother-in-law to her pre-op appointment. She told me a week ago today that she has breast cancer. She found the lump before Christmas, but didn't tell us until then because she didn't want to ruin the holidays.

Mothers always do stuff like that.

It's knowledge that keeps a body awake, that's for sure.

15 January 2007

To Sleep, Perchance


It's 7 AM - past 7 AM - and I have yet to go to sleep.

When is this going to end?

I have spent yet another evening trolling the net, looking for sites to add to the links section of my blog and for knitting inspiration that would entice me into picking up the needles and try something, anything, for goodness sakes.

Perhaps I would be able to think of something if I could think. This lack of sleep is beginning to wear me down. I have no energy, no desire to go out of doors. Crafting with a friend today was a major accomplishment - I not only had a shower (you don't know how rare that is these days), I left the house. You know, got in the car and went to a place that wasn't the market or to visit my mother-in-law. Those trips don't count: both were necessities and duty. And I'm not convinced that I showered either of those days.

I find that I have to make a list of things to get done so that I can remember just to do the basics of a day. I'm no stranger to lists (I love them!), but I wasn't expecting to have to make lists to remind myself what to do when I got out of bed each day until I was well into my 70s. Distressing.

Ah, finally. I am beginning to yawn and my eye lids are finally feeling heavy. I'll take advantage of the moment and head to bed now.

It helps that it still looks like the dead of night outside.

To sleep, perchance before dawn.

14 January 2007

iPhone, My Ass

While everyone is busy coveting the new iPhone, I'm dreaming of affordable luxuries that will make my life and life with my laptop computer easier.

I am always on the lookout for new softy-shiny that I can use to (temporarily) sate my gadget jones. While cruising a couple of style blogs last night, I came across this by Belkin. It's designed by Mike & Maaike (Mike & Mike, anyone?!), who have designed some other nifty-looking products, and is available on the Belkin site.

Isn't it beautiful?! So rounded and squishy and Kermit-like. And it can keep scratches off my Precious?!

This thing even has storage for my power cord so that I don't have to hand carry the cord from room to room while I'm roaming with my laptop.

It's freakin' genius, I tell you.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I think that the iPhone is truly revolutionary. And those of you who know me know that my Pavlovian response to all things Apple will not allow me to exist for long without the addition of said revolutionary gadget to my technological menagerie.

I've seen plenty of sites and blogs that mention the iPhone and how sweeeeet it is, but if you want to see a demo of the phone itself, as well as Steve Jobs demonstrating "The Pinch," check out iPhoneFreak.

I'm not proud - I'll admit it - I made the noise when I watched SJ demonstrate "The Pinch." I think you will, too.

13 January 2007

Whole New You... I mean, Me

I had already decided that this would be the year of me. I had decided that I was going to make the changes I need (want) to make in myself, for myself, so that I can go back to being myself.

I started journaling again and I started posting again. When I looked at my blog I was disappointed in the progress that I hadn't made in year since I started this: I hadn't posted a photo in (I don't know how many) months and I still had those damn default links in the sidebar. It was shameful.

Enter the new drag-n-drop Blogger. Now, I am good at dragging and dropping. Having worked at the Big Red A for 6 years, I knew from drag and drop. So I figured that I could finally make some of the changes that I have been wanting (needing) to make since I started this.

So, I'm putting the insomnia to use (I'm writing this at 5:30 AM) and I've spent this morning adding links and new sections to my blog. I've given it a new name to reflect that that blog will be about more than just my knitting projects and I'm actually posting for the third time in as many days. I like the new look of, and the fact that there is actual content on, my blog. Hope you do, too.

Go get 'em, tiger. Rrowr.

12 January 2007

The V Sign

In England you don't flip people the bird, you flash the V sign instead. It's the same gesture as the Peace sign, but your palm is facing you. It's better if you gesture upwards quickly, in a kind of jerking motion; it makes more of an impact.

I want to give the V sign to drivers here in England all the time.

It's winter now and that means that it starts to get dark at about 4 o'clock PM... on a good day. If it's cold and rainy and grey during the day, it feels like the sun has taken to its bed even earlier. It can be as good as night at 3 in the afternoon.

Dark at 3 PM. Yay!

Tuesday was Stitch 'N Bitch so I drove myself to Lytham - a pretty little village about 15 miles away from where I live. Since we don't meet until 5, the drive now is along a dark, narrow, winding, two-car back country road with a low, brick wall on one side and oncoming traffic on the other.

Now, to get the "feel" of this drive, you have to imagine that you're driving along a two-lane, wending, twisting, undulating country road.
There is no center divider, no barrier of any kind. There are no street lights. Each and every vehicle of oncoming traffic is cutting the corner on each and every curve, crossing the dividing line and driving into your lane. All of them - huge semis, all manner of farm vehicle, souped-up boy racers, hand-powered bicycles, slow-moving Smart cars driven by old people with dodgy reflexes - all of them. Just to save a nanosecond per curve. Damn the fact that to your left is said low, brick wall (masked in places by privet or yew hedges and built, apparently, by Hadrian to keep out advancing Barbarians and errant sheep) separated from you and the road by only the merest lip of a curb. It's like being a newbie NASCAR driver - you'd better know how to hold your line if you want to stay off that wall!

Oh, and did I mention that there is a white Ford Transit van driving so far up your ass that - should you be crazy enough to apply your brakes - you'd be able to see the red tip of the cigarette that the ham-fisted, North Yorkshire lad behind you is smoking and take comfort in the knowledge that he'
s doing so with one nicotine-stained hand because he's using the other to glue a mobile phone to his pasty, cauliflower ear?!

Okay, that's not quite fair... it
could be a Citroën Relay.

If it wasn't, like, African plains dark, I'd be flipping people the bird left and right. Wouldn't make any difference - I keep forgetting that I'm supposed to flash the V sign.

11 January 2007

Insomniac Theatre

It's 4 A.M. and I'm awake and listening to the wind howl through the trees and the rain whip against my windows.

I'm awake and don't know if it's insomnia or jet lag or a combination of the two. All I know is that there's nothing on T.V., it's too early (literally) to start drinking and I don't have the ingredients to make beef wellington, so I'm at loose ends.

Being at loose ends isn't unusual for me these days. For the last 7 months I have been lamenting the fact that I haven't really had much to do. Well, it's high time I took matters into my own hands.

Tuesday at my knitting group I asked a friend to help me with my Curriculum Vitae (CV), which is the European version of a résumé, so that I can start putting it out. It was a pretty big step. I've been telling people (and myself, really) that my CV has been in the works almost since I got here, but looking at a hard copy of my old resume (and the résumés of a couple of former co-workers) doesn't actually count as working on my CV - that much I know.

I also asked that same friend if she wanted to do some card making and scrapbooking together. In a place where most people are very insular and already well-established in their social circles, I've found it much harder than normal to make friends. This is unusual for me. I'm comfortable with my own company; I don't mind having time to read or watch a movie in peace (I do so hate it when people talk during a movie), but one can only do nothing by one's self for just so long before seppuku begins to sounds like a viable option. I miss my friends. I miss having friends. The only company I have most of the time is my cat. Look, I'm not faulting Zoe, it's not that she isn't great company - she's sweet and funny, easily amused by insects and purrs when she eats (part of the being funny thing) - she just isn't much of a talker. Which is both a good and a bad thing, I guess, but it does strain the relationship. I'd like to be able to go out of a Saturday afternoon, visit with someone who isn't related (even if just by marriage) to me.

Being bored here is partly (okay, mostly) my own fault. I've been doing less than I could, and certainly less than I should. I need to do something with the veritable cornucopia of time that I have on my hands and no one, honestly, can do anything about that but me.