Thursday, July 31, 2008

We're Nocturnal

We are all having a hard time getting back on schedule. Most nights this week at 3:00am all of us are awake. A. had a minor setback going home so soon after moving. Right now with school being out of session she hasn’t met anyone so her English experience has not really begun. So talking to her friends on the phone last week and then having people ask her if she liked living in England was a bad combination. She didn’t want to leave the U.S. I have contacted the local youth centre to see if there are some activities she could participate in and I also introduced her to the 15 year old girl that lives next door who seems like a very nice kid. But part of me doesn’t want this little cocoon that the three of us are living in without a lot of outside contact to end. With A. turning 13 next month and school starting in September, I feel the teenage years quickly approaching where the last thing she will want to do is hang out with her parents. Will she still want to play Guitar Hero with mom and dad?

When we were in the States she decided that she wanted to cut her hair. She wanted a scene haircut. What is a scene haircut? Well I had to do a Google image search to find out and it involves lots of jagged bangs (fringe in the UK) and colors like red and blue. I told her to try again. She in the end got her bangs cut. The girl who cut them told her they were supermodel bangs which meant she cut both sides down to a point in the middle of her face so that the bangs could be pushed to either side and have that jagged look. This means that one eye is usually covered which drives H crazy. Like I told my sister-in-law B, does an almost 13 year old girl really need dramatic bangs as an accessory to her dramatic moods? Well she’s got them.

I have been trying to get her to focus on the positive. We are going to see Wicked in the West End on the 16th of August. We saw it a few years ago with some good friends in Chicago and she is dying to see it again. It will be interesting to see if there is a difference.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The American Scene

The British Museum had a special exhibit of prints from American artists. I liked it but H was unimpressed. After we left, he said to me, “What was that?” When I started explaining it, he let me finish before he said, “I know what it was, but who the hell cares”. I’ve been laughing about that since we left the museum.

Tough Crowd

Before we went to the States, I suggested a few Sundays ago that we visit The British Museum. H was up for it because he was interested in their Egyptian artifacts. I got A interested in it by suggesting she take a digital camera and record some movies. It was a beautiful day and the museum was busy but not out of control packed. Not long into our tour, A looked like she had given up the will to live, and there was no light in H’s eyes. As we were leaving I said to H that they were a tough crowd since they didn’t seem wowed at all by the museum. He explained that while the building was impressive, he didn’t think the collection was all that. I do think if you grow up around Chicago and your first experience in museums are Chicago museums, the bar is set pretty high.

Climate Control

I had forgotten about that good old American summer feeling of walking from the 90 degree heat into sub-zero air conditioning. It just does not happen here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Goodbye Sundae

Nothing like going home and having to face family with a recent weight gain to make one take a cold hard look at oneself. The turtle sundae at Culver’s is absolutely evil and delicious. I decided this would be my last treat for some time. I’ve got to put this in writing on this blog so I don’t decide mid-day on Monday that I can’t start an exercise program after all!


My sister-in-law breeds long-haired dachshunds and we got to see some of the latest litter. If it weren’t for the quarantine, one of these pups might have been making a transatlantic journey this week.

Nothing Beats an American Breakfast

Yes, there's too much food but going out for breakfast is a ritual that I do miss. When we went out for breakfast one morning in the States, H couldn't find what he could call "the big fat man combo" on the menu so he had to make one of his own. We're talkin about toast, eggs, hash browns, grits, bacon, and pancakes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Price of Gasoline...

is on everyone's minds in the U.S. As you can see from this billboard, it is even being used in the latest MacDonald's ad campaign.

Land of Lincoln

We had to drive through flat Illinois farmland while in the States. I believe that a number of the corn crops here are used for ethanol production.

Reflection on our Trip Home

It is true that as we get older, sometimes weddings and funerals are the only times that we reconnect with family and friends. There never seems to be enough time, but those moments where you can reconnect and have a laugh or tell someone how you feel, they make all the difference.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Home Again

I have spent more time than I expected in the U.S. this year.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Never Say Never

I never thought in response "What can I get you?" at a lunch counter the words 'tuna mayo jacket potato' would ever come from MY mouth, but here's the picture to prove it. Everyone here eats baked potatoes (jacket potatoes) will all kinds of stuff on top; baked beans, coleslaw, and yes, tuna salad. I would definitely have it again.

July in England

When I came home from work this week and H was in his flannel shirt, he commented to me that he couldn’t believe it is July because he was so cold. This is our first July in England and I am surprised how cool it is. I really can’t imagine swimming in an outdoor pool in the summer here, but I suppose people do.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blueberry Muffin Anyone?

I used to think I was a good cook, but now I’m convinced I’m just a good eater. A wise person once said that a way to your co-worker’s hearts is through their stomach (or something like that). Equipped with one of those new-fangled silicone muffin tins, I thought I would make some blueberry muffins and take them to work. Well, as you can see from the pics, they didn’t go anywhere but in a cereal bowl to be eaten with a fork. As A said, “You’d take those to work and they would be saying behind your back ‘that American can’t cook!’”

How Sweet...and Modern

How the internet has changed daily life! One of A’s good friends recorded others at school saying goodbye to her. He created a page on YouTube and has loaded all of the messages, there. When I sent K the link to the page, her response was, “How sweet… and modern”. No doubt.

The Bus Schedule is Open to Interpretation

So there’s a schedule posted, but the movement of the buses is rarely according to plan. I have waited over 30 minutes for that elusive connection home. It’s not bad when the iPod is fully charged and the weather is nice. It can be hell if that’s not the case. I know these observations are not new to anyone who regularly takes public transportation, but I’m new at this. We Americans, we love our cars! I find it amazing that on public transportation you are in a most public place, but it is also as if you are in private because you could really do just about anything and most people around you would remain expressionless. On Sunday, we saw a guy knuckle-deep digging in his nose in front of God and everyone. Besides me and H sharing a look between us about it, everyone else averted their eyes in apathy.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fight Club

Occasionally when we are in our backyard we see a black cat jump out of the greenhouse. I told H that must be his clubhouse. Yesterday we were watching television when H said he though he heard some noise outside. We saw these two cats in fighting stance in our front yard. Of course when they saw us watching them, they stood motionless staring at us. The hooligan cats in the neighborhood do keep us entertained.

My Favorite Quote from Spain

I overheard a waitress eagerly explaining a specific wine to a table at dinner one night. One of the diners asked her if she was married or had a boyfriend. She responded, “No, a man broke my heart into 10,000 pieces. Now I am in love with wine”. I heard a woman sitting close by say, “Not a bad Plan B”.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

English Wildlife

Here's what the sidewalks look like after a rain.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Little Britain USA

America, you are in for a treat. A yahoo news story reported that the popular comedy show Little Britain will be making its debut in the U.S. this fall. Since moving to the UK I have been catching some re-runs of this show. It is absolutely hilarious. My friend R in D.C. and I have been discussing our favorite episodes recently. Here's just a taste from youtube.

Grammar School Test

A took the grammar school test a few weeks ago and we found out one day this week that she passed with flying colors and they would look for a place for her in a grammar school of her choice. We were very excited about this news, until we got the letter the very next day stating that there are no places in the grammar schools so she will have to go to the local school in the area. I am not worried about the school she will attend. In fact, the neighbor next door goes there and says great things about it and I have visited. It’s just that I feel like we put a lot of energy into worrying about this stupid test and really it got us nothing in the end. Oh well, school does not start until September so you never know there may be changes still before that happens.

Scavenger Cat

When I was eating breakfast one morning this cat was hanging out among the tables waiting for some scraps. I had to take a picture of him because he looks like he has a goatee.

Beautiful Colors and Interesting Trees

I don't think I have ever seen olive trees before.

Our Lady of the Peep Show

In the evening in one of the towns we were taking a walk along the water and there was this small building all lit up that everyone was walking to to take a look at what was inside. It was this statue of Mary that we thought must have been a memorial of some kind. After looking into the windows to see what it was and trying to read the sign, the person I was with who also didn’t speak Spanish turned to two gentlemen who were standing behind us waiting to take their turn to look and she asked them if they spoke Spanish, hoping they could interpret the meaning. No, instead their accents gave them away as Brits, and with money in their hands they said, “We saw people walking over here with coins looking through the windows, so we thought it must be a naked woman over here”. We had a good laugh knowing how disappointed they were going to be to instead see a religious icon.

The Towers in Spain

Because pirate ships often landed on the coast of Spain and enslaved the locals, they built these towers in the 1500’s to send warning signals to everyone in the villages when a ship was approaching.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Food and Drink in Spain

Food and drink is wonderful in Spain. If it wouldn’t label me an alcoholic, I would drink sangria all day every day. One can always find Serrano ham and manchego cheese, although seeing the Serrano ham with the hoof sticking out next to the sliced pieces makes it not as appetizing. I had shellfish paella for the first time. At dinner one night the next table ordered salted cod. It is quite a presentation so I had to act like a tourist and take a picture. The waiter chips away at a mound of salt to reveal a whole fish underneath.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

4th of July in Spain

Not that I live this extraordinary life, but I had one of those moments where I thought to myself, if someone would have told me that in 2008 I would be celebrating (quietly) the 4th of July in Spain with not an American in sight I would not have believed them. There was a celebration going on there, it was feria in the local village and many of the women were dressed in traditional and some not so traditional flamenco dresses. Those dresses are not very forgiving to those who have figure flaws! I wish I could have taken some pictures without looking like a gawker because there were some very beautiful people in Spain. I took this pic from a distance but you can see a few dresses.

Talking about the origins of the 4th of July with non-Americans was interesting. It made me realize that deep down that I still want to believe all of the ideology about our country.

Monday, July 7, 2008

On the Mediterranean

It's a Small World

Stopped at this gas station in Spain and they were selling DVDs. I had to take a quick pic of Staying Alive! I also saw posters everywhere advertising a Chuck Berry concert at the end of the month. Amazing to see at 80 years old Chuck is touring in Spain this month.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Internet Arrives Today!

The birds will be singing after our home internet service is set up today. I have to go to Spain for work tomorrow and A said to me with internet arriving, "Mom, we probably won't leave the house while you're gone". Nice to know I won't be missed. :)

It will be interesting to see how things change with the integration of the internet back in our lives.

Dinner at the B&B

We were invited over to the B&B on Friday night. It was nice for my family to meet my B&B family. I know I will keep in touch with them for our time in England. I think everyone will agree, you really get to know people when you live with them. While I’ve known them for about ten months, it feels like about three years instead.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Birthday Celebrations

This must be a general rule in Europe that when it is your birthday, you provide the cake for the celebration. It was the same in Germany and the Americans that I worked with there were hell-bent on telling our German co-workers how they were being robbed of a true birthday by having to do the work. They didn’t know that it should be their time to sit back with their feet up and make others provide the cake. And if someone didn’t follow through, it should be their prerogative to hold a grudge against them eternally. One of my favorite memories ever is my friend L in Huntsville making me a homemade German Chocolate Cake (homemade chocolate buttercream and that coconut pecan stuff) while I sat on her couch and enjoyed the Oscars broadcast when I was pregnant. Now that’s a birthday celebration!

Last week we had a birthday in the office and the birthday boy brought in several different cakes. I had to take a picture of this one since it was delicious and a new experience. This Wikipedia article is kind of interesting. Who knew that like wildlife, our favorite cakes could also be “extinct”?