Thursday, December 28, 2006


It's really cold here. Ok so it's not technically freezing at this moment. But to save on my gas/electricity bills, I keep the heating off during the day while I'm at home. And I bundle on the sweaters. But the temperature has really dropped and I'm so COLD. I have these slippers that actually make my feet colder when I wear them. Seriously. I'm not sure how that works. When I was visiting my family I bought several really nice new sweaters, some of them quite heavy and made of wool, so I can layer up and not die of hypothermia. Yet.

Christmas was good. I got some fun toys. Partner got me this new video game that's a First Person Shooter. I've never really done much FPS type games before. I don't like violent games. Well, violence is ok but graphic violence is not. There is no blood in this game but it sure is dark. If it's a bright day, I have to wait till it gets dark to play it, otherwise there's too much of a glare on the tv. I also got some art supplies from Partner. He got me a calligraphy pen and ink set. I used to have one but the pen broke. I think maybe the nib did too. So for a while I did brush and ink instead which I also really enjoyed, though once I ran out of ink I never got a new bottle. I have a bunch of ink drawings from about four or five years ago. Some of them are really good. Most of them aren't. Though sometimes I look at my old drawings and think wow, did I really do that? Then other times I think, where's the trash can?

We're going to London to visit the inlaws for New Year's. We probably won't be doing any shopping this time, which is a shame. I love shopping. But I'm broke now that Christmas is done. Partner says he wants to buy me some silk stockings. I think I can wait a little longer for them. Like till I'm a millionare. Then I'll get a dozen pairs.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

None taken

At last, it frosted here and it's officially the start of winter. Actually, on my American calendar winter started yesterday, but on my British calendar it started today. Happily, the days will now be getting longer again (starting either today or tomorrow, whichever calendar you happen to believe in). But now that means I have to do a little more work in my garden. The tender plants need to be brought in out of the cold.

I think I'm going to add another composter to my collection. I just have one medium-sized black one, and I think I've dug out all the compost that's coming for a while. Maybe I could chip out a bit more, but that stuff is like concrete. Well, maybe not concrete, but it sure is compact. The composter is completely full, mostly of plants and leaves from this summer, but also some kitchen waste as well. And of course it's also full of worms and other wiggly things. Compost is cool. You put green/yellow leafy stuff in one end, and black crumbly stuff comes out the other end. In Vermont where I worked, the gardeners had a six-week compost rotation. It actually took six weeks for their compost to break down into dirt. It was really amazing. I think it goes for about three to six months in my compost bin. Actually, if I had the time for it, I could do a six-week compost heap. The thing is, it needs to be stirred every day. And stirring can be tough. It involves a big shovel or fork and a lot of digging. And really yucky smells. The neighbors wouldn't thank me for it.

It frosted hard overnight and there's still a heavy white film on the ground now at 11.20 AM. In other parts of the country they say there is a heavy freezing fog. I'm glad it's sunny here. Partner has been taking the bus to work. It's no good when he has to wait for it in bad weather. I used to take the bus to college every day, and it could really suck in the rain. But it's worse when it's freezing.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Up and down

So all those crocosmia cormlets got planted. I dug holes for several clumps of them, towards the rear of the garden. Places that are mostly shady and not well populated with other plants. They should make some good-sized patches when they come up next year. The ones that are already in place, ones I didn't dig up, are already started with new shoots. I cleared away all the old leaves and little yellow ones are peeking up out of the ground.

I also planted some baby lupins I grew from seed earlier this year. A third of them went out front a few months ago, and another third got planted in the back two days ago. They're so tiny but they look strong. I don't know, however, if they'll flower the first year. Partner says he planted some one spring and they didn't flower till next summer. But mine will be almost a year old next spring, so I've got my fingers crossed. What's good is that if you dead head them, they'll flower all summer. We let our big ones go to seed last summer and the little pods burst open with such speed that the seeds were bouncing off the fence and pinging off the neighbor's glass conservatory roof. One hit Partner in the ear. He was convinced birds were dropping things on him. [Addendum: Partner was the one who discovered where they were coming from. Just in case he reads this and thinks I'm trying to make him look like an idiot. He's not really.]

And lastly, and I'm very excited about this, two of my rose cuttings are sprouting. I took them earlier this fall and two look a bit dry and stiff, but two are definitely growing new shoots. Super Neat.

I still haven't got my three bags of tulip bulbs yet. I think I should ask Santa for them. He's got more money than me. My parents sent a big bag of presents with us for Christmas and some of them are to me from Santa. Not that I believe in Santa. I can't remember ever believing in him, to tell the truth. Though I remember pretending to believe when I was little, because my parents thought it was cute. I wrote a letter and left cookies and milk. I probably believed at one point in my life, but that point of my life is a little fuzzy now. But I still believe in unicorns. Metaphysically, at least.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Looking up

I haven't spent much time in my garden recently. I dug up a huge patch of crocosmia that we have, in preparation for making an herb garden next year. Crocosmia is a lovely plant that grows from little bulb/corm thingies and has wonderful orangey flowers that look like tiny birds of paradise. We have a couple of patches here and there, but this patch was so big, it all came up in one big lump about two feet square and I had to physically break each and every corm away from a tight knot of roots. I ended up with a five gallon bucket overflowing with them. Just corms, no roots or leaves. I will plant them soon. The weather has been extremely mild and we haven't had any hard frost yet, so the ground is still ok for planting.

We visited my parents in southern Utah for Thanksgiving. I did a lot of filming for a movie I want to make. However, since my dad owns the video camera I have to wait for him to extract the film to digital and then send it to me for editing. If I ever get it done, I'll post it online. It should be only a short ten to fifteen minute movie. Nothing too overtaxing, I hope. We saw my sister play basketball and were very impressed with her skills. I would venture to say she is one of the best players on her team. My brother is an artist and he showed me his portfolio. He wants to do CGI for the movies. Or maybe for video games. I think he's really talented. And then there's me. I think I used to be good at stuff. I used to draw. I used to play basketball. Now...I mostly garden.

I'm looking forward to Christmas as well. I want lots and lots of presents. Big presents. All wrapped up in pretty paper with big bows. Although I also really enjoy buying presents too. I had fun picking out things for my siblings when we visited them. They all got presents that I would have liked to have kept for myself.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Taking a break

I haven't felt like blogging and I still don't feel like it. I think anyone who has been following my blog will know the reason why. So I am putting it on hold for the time being. I will be back. Just later. Maybe a lot later.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

All in a row

I took some rose cuttings of our favorite fragrant rose this week. I've never really tried growing anything from cuttings but I did research and followed some instructions in one of our gardening manuals and hopefully in a year's time we'll have several new little bushes. I hope. I've been thinking it would be nice to have more roses though Partner says we don't really have room. But I think we always have more room. We have several shrubs dotted here and there that neither of us are extremely fond of, so they could come up and roses could replace them. I was reading Rebecca recently and at one point Mrs de Winter talks about having roses in a bowl. I thought it would be nice to have enough roses to put in a bowl. Though I have enough dahlias; maybe I should get a bowl.

I also planted a bag of daffodils yesterday. I remembered how long winter can be here and how nice it is to finally see some flowers in spring. I thought it would be really good to have enough daffodils flowering to pick them for vases. So I bought three bags of them with 75 bulbs a bag. It took me an hour to get the one bag in. I planted them in twos and threes and along with some bluebells/wood hyacinths that I divided from the front earlier in the year. I figure I can plant one other bag in the back yard and the last in the front yard. And I will still have a few other bulbs to go down: bluebells, blue iris, and snakeheads (I can't remember their real name). And that's not including tulips which I'll put down in November. Maybe I'll get three bags of them too.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Begin again

The piano got repaired and tuned. It took the man about three hours to do it and I even had to assist at one point. I made him a cup of tea at the beginning but I should have made him another, it lasted so long. The event took place about ten minutes after I got home from work so I was a bit tired and just wanted to sleep, but I stayed in the room and played my video game with the sound off (obviously). At one point there was a loud resonating ping and the word "balls" was uttered. He had been tightening pegs and glueing them into place so I was worried that one had just popped out; apparently it was actually the sound of a string breaking. So I'll get that replaced in a few weeks when he's ordered it. Luckily it's a bass string, meaning there were two of them for the key; the piano is still playable. And playable it is. I played it for about an hour and a half that evening. I got out three of my favorite piano books: Bach's keyboard music, Mozarts sonatas for piano, and Chopin's selected waltzes. I want to get more Chopin music and other Romantic-era piano music. Sometimes it's good to make a lot of noise.

Today is Friday and I get a week and a bit off starting today. I'm not working till the Monday after next. I've asked Partner to see about getting the week off himself. He has a very good excuse: he broke his shoulder last weekend. At the beginning of the summer he broke his finger playing baseball. At the end of the season he broke his shoulder. We had to go to the emergency room yet again and get more x-rays and get poked more. At one point a doctor touched him in a certain spot and Partner nearly cried and began cursing like he was the devil's mouthpiece. I think we'll all be glad to know that he's not actually possessed by Satan though I've never heard such blasphemy.

So Partner hasn't been sleeping well because his shoulder is so painful. They can't immobilize it with plaster so he just has a sling. I think he should take time off work; it's his right arm and he really can't do anything productive including drive and cook and type. He'd be more secure at home with not as many chances to jar it. Plus he'd be with me for a week. And that's always nice.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I've been thinking about higher education but it kind of makes me nervous. I've done a little research into costs of universities around here, and there's like a set amount that every student has to pay, regardless. So I've been racking my brains trying to think of a job I could get for about a year that pays a lot in order to save up for next year's classes. Partner suggested signing up at a temp agency and doing office temp work. The only experience I have with temp agencies is through one of my friends who got jobs doing housekeeping by them. Now I would do housekeeping myself except I think it wouldn't pay any better than the job I currently have. The job I currently have pays £5.60 an hour. And I think the exchange rate is about $1.90 per pound, so that's 5.6 x 1.9 = $10.64. Wow I just did that sum and I didn't realize it was that much myself. But still it's only a part time job and it's only 35p more than the minimum wage here. And I don't think I can do a kitchen job full time because of my back, yet I do need a full time job. Partner says I can do office temp work since I can type and navigate a computer. But getting a new job makes me even more nervous. However, I need the money so I guess I should try.

September already...I'm hoping for a sunnier month. There were dead leaves on the pavement in London when we were there last weekend. I saw a flock of ducks flying, but not in formation; they had just been frightened out of a pond. At least, I think that's what they were doing and not migrating. Our dahlias are now almost all flowering, since they are a late summer/autumn plant. They're the last of the flowers to open, but most of the summer flowers are still going pretty strong. And we have ripe tomatoes every day now.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A lovely face

I woke up this morning feeling relaxed and limber. For the past two weeks I've worked extra shifts and have been standing seven hours a day for eleven days now. It's hard on my legs and back. I have a slightly crooked spine so if I stay in any position for extended periods, it starts to really ache. Like when we go to London and walk around all day without sitting down. I love going to London but it really wears me out. When I was a kid I took dancing lessons and my teachers were always on to me about putting my shoulders back and tucking in my butt. I always tried so hard, but I realize now why I couldn't. My back just curves that way and makes my butt really stick out. If I tuck it in my shoulders cave in. I've thought about going back to the doctor to ask about treatment, but I might not. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was about twelve or thirteen but I guess I didn't require treatment then and it's never been an issue since. But working so much has put a strain on my back and I've been taking a lot of hot baths and asking for a lot of massages from Partner these past weeks. Today I'm not working so I'm going to take it easy.

This month has been very soggy. Where July was intensely hot, August has been rainy and even cold. It's felt like fall pretty much the whole month. However, yesterday it actually didn't rain once and today it is clear and mostly cloudless so there may be hope for the last weekend of this month. Our clothes dryer isn't working so well so I really count on having sunny days to dry my clothes. I've been doing a lot of dashing out and flinging clothes off the line because of sudden downpours. We have a little clothes rail for indoor drying but it can take two days indoors and it only holds one load of washing.

The other day I found a little pansy flowering in our lawn. It's the sweetest thing. I didn't know it, but they grow wild around here and I've found them in other parts of the yard. I wouldn't mind a whole lawn full of them.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pick your friends

I have had a kind of change in my attitude recently. I've realized I don't have to wait for my ship to come in for me to have a good life. I guess that's kind of a duh statement, but it's something that's just crystallized for me. Kind of like when I realized that I didn't have to be depressed; I could actually choose to be not depressed. I remember when that happened. I was watching a nature program on tv about termites. And I thought to myself, why am I watching termites? They're so gross and I hate looking at them and they make me feel ill just watching them. Then I thought, what if I saw termites as beautiful? And then I found out I could. It was momentous. And it was only a short step away from deciding I didn't have to feel depressed. I could want to feel not depressed and it would happen.

So I've decided to stop waiting to become a millionaire before I make my house perfect. I'm going to make it perfect now, with the materials I've got. I don't have to buy things. I don't need brand new furniture (though my couch needs re-upholstering pretty darn soon or it won't have any thread left--just bare) and I just need a new kitchen floor. Well, I say a new floor but what I actually need is a floor. Any floor really, so long as it is sturdy and durable. We have just a stretch of concrete right now. I was thinking I might like laminate floor boards which comes in planks and looks like hardwood but is actually pretend wood. Partner is leaning more towards what is called lino which is actually not linoleum but a cheaper variation. They don't really do linoleum in this country. Lino aka vinyl flooring I guess can look good and it's common in a kitchen. Lino is a lot more pliable than linoleum and can almost fold. I think I don't want tiles on the floor. Too cold on the feet. I think it'd be different if we had a huge mansion. Tiles would look right in a large house. But not in our small house.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The magic

It's about time I got our piano looked at. What with one thing or another, it really hasn't been played for several months and it's in dire need of repair and tuning. One of the keys is completely gone and several others are starting to go. We've had the same problem with that one key for a few years now. It's been tuned and repaired several times but only lasts about six months. So our piano guy thinks the baseboard must be cracked. He hasn't seen it in over a year now I think, so I don't know what he'll suggest this time. It may be that he won't be able to fix it and we might have to go for a new instrument. I hope not. Partner inherited it from his great-aunt and it's special to him.

I began learning to play the keyboard/piano at about age seven or eight but started in earnest at age eleven. I never had any formal lessons, but took what I could learn from my father, from general music classes at school, and out of books. At some points in my life I practiced for an hour or more every day. It was only when I moved here two years ago that I actually clicked with reading music, however. I don't have to look at my hands very much any more and can sight-read with relative ease. My father admitted to me that I play better than he does. I like to play some old favorites but I enjoy playing new music more. I don't really have any music memorized though; I'm completely crippled without scores. I suppose if I took a theory class or got a good book I might get better at memorizing. I can play lots of pop/folk songs on my ukulele without any music. Because I know about chords I don't have to have music to play most any song on the uke. Partner is like that on the piano. He's not so good at sight-reading but can play you any song you like at the drop of a hat.

I like the piano and I like to play purely for my own amusement. I have no desire to join a band or group. In fact, I think I might dislike it as I would be overshadowed and possibly underappreciated. I would only want to perform as a soloist. However I'm perfectly content to play in the privacy of my own home when no one else is around. I remember when I was younger I used to enjoy playing duets with my father; the two of us could play music that we might struggle with singly. Now I've surpassed my father and can play those pieces completely unassisted.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Love from me

I have been reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. We own a few books by the same author and all his books that I have read have the same message. The message is that humans are not meant to live the way we're living and unless we change our way of thinking we'll go extinct. He writes that humans see ourselves as above and separate from nature and the world, and therefore not affected by the changes we make to our environment.

I was saying to Partner the other day that I wondered if gas prices would climb so high that people couldn't afford to drive any more. What I really meant was, will this happen in the very near future? And if it does, how will it affect our lives, as a civilization? I think it could potentially be a very exciting or very frightening time. On one hand, law and order may collapse and anarchy ensue. Governments may declare martial law and citizens starve in their homes, with no food or electricity able to reach them. Or maybe it will happen gradually so that we become a bike riding and walking people, growing our own produce and eating only locally grown foods. I think if all the gasoline in the world suddenly disappeared tomorrow, a lot of people would find themselves out of their jobs. The more obvious ones like bus and taxi companies of course would become obsolete, but then think how much of the economy depends on the ability to ship a product from one place to another. I think we wouldn't be getting newspapers or books. We'd have to find another source of clothing than the local mall. I think the entire service industry would be severely crippled: stores wouldn't be able to receive stock any longer.

To me, it sounds like an exciting change. I think of all the positive changes that could be made. It makes me think of what I could do right now to be ready for it. Like study up on gardening. Buy a bike. Find out about solar panels and wind turbines for the house. Decide whether or not I want to live here permanently before all the airplanes are retired!

Friday, July 21, 2006


Nearly all my plants that I raised from seed are flowering. I just have about one or two more that are almost there. I have a couple of really fantastic plots of flowers. In the front there's a mass of poppies all different colors and in the back is a bed of cosmos and larkspurs in lovely pinks, whites, and blues. Everywhere else is also quite nice but not as well-planned. And I have a few bare spots even. Actually I take that back. Anywhere that is not exploding with flowers is exploding with weeds. So there aren't any bare spots whatsoever.

So my excuse for not weeding this week is that it's been HOT. We breached 90F. What's more, I was at work and I think it's common knowledge I work in a kitchen. What with the oven on and up to six gas burners at full power, plus a sink full of hot water to wash's a wonder I'm still alive actually. It's the washing dishes that's the worst. Having to hang over that big sink in that hot water for fifteen minutes every hour just about killed me.

I was pretty pleased with myself this week, however. I made some English fudge, which is not chocolate, but rather a boiled sugar candy kind of like toffee. I had to heat the sugar with butter and milk to a temperature of 113C, and seeing as the boiling temperature of water is 100C, it can be a little tricky. I didn't have a thermometer that could read the temps so I had to do what is called the Cold Water Test. At 113C the sugar forms a soft flat ball when dropped by the spoonful into a glass of very cold water. So there I was with my little spoon and little glass, testing it every minute or so. But I succeeded. And it tasted great. In fact, it tasted so great that one of my coworkers kept coming back and stealing (or pinching as they say here) little pieces of it after it was cooled. It makes me want to learn how to make other candies. My gramma used to make really yummy sweets and candies every Christmas. I should ask her about them.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The room

It was our two year wedding anniversary yesterday. It doesn't seem so long ago that we said I do. It doesn't feel like I've been living in this house for two years. We went to York to have dinner and a drink. I was disappointed in my steak as it was overcooked. We got home kind of late and I feel asleep right away. Both of us had to work and it seemed like we didn't get to spend much time together. Just about four hours I think. Well, we slept in the same bed for another seven hours, but I certainly wasn't conscious at the time so I'm not sure that counts.

Work sucks. I should move to the Big Rock Candy Mountain where they shot the jerk who invented work. I'm not saying my particular job sucks. Just the whole concept of work. The idea that you have to go do something that takes you away from your family and friends and interests for half your day five days a week. I learned in anthropology class that prehistoric humans worked about ten hours a week either hunting or gathering. The remaining time was leisure time. Thinking about it, I suppose Partner and I could each work ten hours a week and have the rest as leisure time but we'd really have to cut back on our amenities. But maybe life would be more fulfilling if we spent most of our time weaving baskets and carving pendants or whatever prehistoric people did for fun. I think the whole idea of having a schedule is the down side of working. If we could just show up for work whenever we ran out of money and then went back home when we had enough...I mean, those Cro-Magnons surely didn't say to each other, "Ok, Szzt, you and Ugh are going to hunt for two hours each day, Monday to Friday, and Hngh and Pffl will gather berries and roots during the same time."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Big foot

I have not been sleeping well this past week or so. I won't name names but someone is keeping me up with their snoring. Not just snoring but SNORING. This unnamed person is keeping me up all night with unceasing nasal disquietude. We have another bedroom and I think if this cacophony continues I may have to use it. This person claims to have a deviated septum which can cause snoring and it is for certain that other people in this person's family snore as well. What is even worse is that I used to be able to wake this person up with a combination of decisive pokes and name saying. This does not work any more.

We have a multitude of pink poppies flowering in our back yard at the moment. They self seed and have returned every year that I've lived here. Out on the sides of the roads and fields in the surrounding area are a profusion of red poppies. The red poppy is kind of a symbol for peace here. People wear paper ones on their lapels in November to signify the end of the first World War. It has been explained to me that the fields that were once red with blood grew red with poppies after the end of the war. From what I have studied about WWI it was a pointless, brutal war with no justification. No wonder people still remember it, still commemorate the end of it.

I'm slowly making my way through decluttering my house. It's amazing how much junk there is. Some things are necessary in life. And some things aren't. I'm trying to separate the necessities from the trivialities.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


It feels good to sit down after standing up for seven hours at work. Today I made some fresh strawberry tarts which turned out super yummy and I also made some little chocolate eclairs and a chocolate cake. Sometimes I think I get carried away. I think I am a fairly good baker and actually I have considered the possibility of opening my own bakery in the future. Before I do I need to take a business class or something and learn about the legal and financial stuff.

The past two weeks I've been watching a lot of soccer/football games on tv, seeing as it's the World Cup. I'm supporting England though I like Argentina a lot. Partner thinks I am a traitor but to me, the Argentinians are a really good team and I like to see their fancy footwork. He thinks they are cheaters and have bad sportsmanship. I think they just play to win, like all the teams do. I think the real reason he dislikes them is because they are what he calls "swarthy" in his most disparaging voice. Technically that means they have dark skin, but actually to him it means (though he won't admit is) that women think they are more handsome than he is.

I'm feeling a little calmer about the dog's death now and not given to outbursts of crying so much. I miss her. She had a cute little pink bare chin and a funny way of talking with her eyebrows. When I came home from work I would say, "Where's my dog?" and she would come running.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Our dog Lucy died last week. I'm upset. Partner is upset. I don't want to talk about it.

And my sister left for home yesterday and I'm even more upset now. The house feels so lonely and I don't want to do anything. I go outside and I'm reminded of our lovely little puppy. I can see her little rope and chewy toy. The neighbor's dog barks at us and I'm reminded of her. I couldn't bring it up with anyone at work. We got a sympathy card from Partner's godmother. I try to play my video games and I think of my sister. I found a pair of socks she left behind. I miss her and I miss my dog.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Once gained never lost

We've done a lot of things since my sister has been here. The most dramatic was a visit to Hadrian's wall which is about a two hour drive from us. For those who don't remember their ancient history lessons, Hadrian was a Roman emperor who built his wall to define his territory. It was the furthest north the Romans ever conquered.

It was a rainy windy day and made worse by the fact that the wall itself is set on the highest ground around. At one point we literally had to get down because the wind would throw us off if we didn't. I had kind of hoped for the Great Wall of Britain, but it wasn't quite that big. In a lot of places the stone had been pillaged over the years (about two thousand to be exact) to build locals' houses so there were big stretches of just earthen mound. We toured two Roman forts, each still quite well-defined, and a small Roman temple to Mithras. We saw that the Romans had discovered underfloor heating and flush toilets (of a sort). Their floors were built over their hot water pipes and we found the evidence of a sewer system. They also had complex bathing facilities with all kinds of ways to get clean. I felt sorry for the Romans stationed there though. They came from hot sunny Italy and then had to live in miserable windy northern England.

Partner keeps promising me that it does in fact get quite hot in England in the summer and I just need to wait, but I've been here three summers so far and all of them have been rainy and cool. I'm beginning to lose faith.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Knock on the wall

My inlaws came to stay for several days and my mother in law did a lot of weeding for me. I'm very glad about that. It's amazing that I can completely raze a bed so it's absolutely bare, and in three weeks it'll be chock full of weeds once more. I don't know where they come from. She also bought me a pink Montana clematis, which flowers in early spring. It's now climbing up a trellis next to our front door.

My sister is here for the next two and a half weeks. Last night we went to the horse races in town and saw about four races. We got to see some of the horses close up and Partner chose two winners, but we didn't bet. I feel a little let down now. We should have gambled a little, if only a pound a race. As it was, the track was very windy and a bit cold though the rain has let up a little. On the way out of the parking lot we got stuck in some mud and Partner and Sister had to push while I tried driving. It took about five minutes or so to get it out. It was in Partner's standard transmission car, not my automatic, and I kept stalling it. But we finally got out and then I drove us home and had a look at the damage. There was mud all over his lovely clean white car. At least if it were mine it wouldn't have shown much, being dark red. We had left before the last race so most of the cars were still parked. I can't imagine what kind of mayhem there would be with everyone getting stuck in the mud.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


These past few days have been so rainy that I've effectively been expelled from the garden. This is bad because a few of my seedling trays really really need to be planted out. They need it now, and it's pouring rain and heavy wind and I don't have any rain gear to speak of. I feel a little guilty not going out and braving the weather. Then there's the fact that, well, I've run out of room! I guess there's still room, but all the sunny spots in my garden are already planted up. There's only shady and part-shade spots left, really.

I am hypoglycemic, which means my blood sugar gets very unstable very easily, leaving me in extreme highs and lows as far as energy goes. If I eat the right kind of foods, I don't have a problem, but if I mess up even a little, or get a little careless, it can affect me for days. Things that mess me up include white flour and anything sugary, most fruits, some sweet vegetables like carrots, corn--a lot of stuff I like to eat. And actually, I'm ok to eat these things as long as they are in combination with things that are good for stablizing me such as whole grains, meat, cheese, green salads. If I eat just the no-no stuff, I start to see-saw every two hours and need to eat immediately. What's bad is that if I can't get some good food down me, which happens often since I'll suddenly drop and just shove the first thing I can lay hands on into my mouth, my body just kind of shuts down.

Which kind of leads me to a kind of detox diet I did for two days this week, and am still kind of on. I just ate fruits and vegetables for two days and now today am eating the same, but with whole grains added to the diet. It's not something I'm going to implement permanently, rather it's something I wanted to do to sort of flush out my system. I read that all the chemicals the body can't dispose of get stored in fat, and that even yucky stuff like mercury and DDT can get washed out with a detox/fast. So lots of water and fruit and veggies for me for a few days. The only problem with that is that I was constantly hungry because of my hypoglycemia. I was eating something every hour or so and still just starving. But today I've had some oatmeal for breakfast and it has calmed me down.

I tell you, eating lots of fruit sure is good, though. We went and bought a whole cart of fresh things like pineapple and melon and cucumbers and they're all really tasty.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Not a penny in it

We interrupt our usual broadcast to bring you an important news bulletin. It's my day off; I repeat: it's my day off.

I had kind of a funny dream that Mel Gibson was our next-door neighbor but he was a really bad neighbor. He kept wandering across our front yard in a raggedy old bathrobe because he had a crush on our other neighbor and was always trying to catch her. I brought out a tray of cookies for Partner and myself and he dumped his entire cup of tea on them as he traipsed past on his way to butter up her little son. I was like: "Mel. Knock it off." I can't say I've ever had romantic fantasies about Mel Gibson. Now why can't I have a dream about Viggo Mortensen...? Oh, actually, I had this great dream about Pierce Brosnan once. He took me to a fancy ball and I had this fabulous shimmery dress, then we were attacked by aliens in spacecraft. It was great.

Yesterday after work I was so happy to be home I went straight out into the backyard and planted some of my cosmo seedlings. It was then I realized just how many I have. About fifty. And that's just cosmos. The past few weeks I've been doing paintings and drawings of the flowers in our yard. I've got a nice painting of our red tulips, but they're now on their very last legs and a good gust of wind will completely denude them. I also have a color drawing of some yellow peonies that I quite like. Last year I painted a vase of gladiolas and I think it's my best work yet. I've not done a lot of flowers in my artwork career, but I find I enjoy it. There are some intensely purple irises in our front yard but I'm kind of shy to go out and paint them. The neighbors would be able to see me.

Where we live all the houses are extremely close together and we actually live at the end of a cul-de-sac so we have neighbors all around. In the back yard we have a tall fence on one side and a hedge of trees at the back, so really only one neighbor could see into our yard. And he never goes into his backyard so it's very private back there. But the front yard is very busy and there are always people about. I'm even shy to garden out there because I don't know what to say to the neighbors if they talk to me.

I guess on a good note, I'm feeling a little better about my foreign accent. I work with a Thai woman and an old lady commented about her in my presence that she couldn't understand these "foreigners." I said to her, "I'm a foreigner" and she said, "Oh you're not foreign, you're a yankee doodle dandy." So there you have it. They don't like foreigners but they like Yankees (doodle dandy).

Monday, May 08, 2006

Wheel of Fortune

Partner got injured again playing sports and we spent several hours at the hospital once more. This time he fractured his index finger. In the end all they did was tape it to the next finger, which seemed a bit anticlimactic after all the time we'd been there and all the people who'd poked it. I'm just glad it wasn't anything life threatening. Two of the doctors there had a good joke about it: one was the doctor he'd seen last week. I thought they'd recommend he stop playing, and one did tell him that playing might not be the best thing for him if he was getting injured every week. Then the specialist told him he wasn't allowed to play for six weeks. Partner told me that he won't be playing any more after this, though he may or may not. At least he won't be playing for six weeks; I'll see to that.

We were at the hospital until quite late last night, and didn't get to bed until a few hours past my usual bedtime. At least today is my day off, so I was able to sleep in a bit. Instead of getting up at six I got up at eight.

One of my sisters is coming to visit us this month. She'll be here three weeks. I can hardly believe it. There are a lot of things I'll want to do once she's here and we'll have to do lots of sightseeing and shopping. My dad visited us last summer. I guess it'll be my mother's turn next summer.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Partner got hit by a pitch twice at his baseball game this weekend and came home with a huge bruise and a bad limp. This morning, two days later, we got up early and went to the emergency room at the hospital to have it x-rayed. It's not fractured just badly bruised. He thinks he can see the stitching from the ball on his leg and thinks it's cool. I'm not too sure.

My lettuces are still free from slug bites, and now I feel a little more confident about them surviving. I had nine little onions planted out but one seems to have run away and I'm left with eight. And trays upon trays of little seedlings all waiting to be planted out. I have so many trays I'm not sure what is what anymore. Some got labeled and some didn't, so I'll play a guessing game when it's time to plant outside.

I'm settling into my work schedule for the most part. Technically I work three days a week, but it is more like having a week on then a week off. I'll work Saturday to Thursday with one day off, then am off Friday to Friday with one day on. Plenty of playtime. This week is the off week so I don't work again for four days. And I think I'm getting into my work routine pretty well. I've actually finished on time this past week. Since I started I've been staying an extra half an hour or so every day because I had too many things to finish. I can hardly leave for the day if the floors aren't cleaned or if there are dirty dishes still. And normally I don't mind staying, since it's still early afternoon and half an hour more isn't much. I hated staying late at my old job, which I had to quite a bit. I would be scheduled to leave at 8.30 in the evening, but wouldn't usually finish till 8.45 or even 9.00. I was always really tired and hungry and ready to go home.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Comes the bride

Not sure why but I feel a bit exhausted this weekend. Like I've been on edge for too long. I don't know. I've been trying some deep breathing and stretches and stuff.

This morning we took the dog for a walk around the reclaimed forested area near our house. Partner remarked how glad he was that we have it. I'm glad too, though I wish it were different. Where I used to live as a teenager had acres and acres of wild land too, with flowers and trees and wildlife, only it was completely isolated and the entire four years I trekked it I only ever saw people out there once. Here it's the town's common ground and everyone walks their dog and/or kids around it and uses it as a shortcut. Now I'm glad we have it because I would feel really unhappy to live in a concrete jungle, but I wish this country wasn't so populated so I could go there and be alone.

On the way back from our walk (it was then about nine in the morning), I stepped on a slug or two on the pavement. Then we planted some gladiolas and stepped on more slugs. I have a few little rows of lettuce planted out recently and I'm hoping they don't get massacred by slimy crawling mollusks. It's amazing what damage a creature with no teeth can do to a lettuce.

Our tulips are finally flowering. Tomorrow is the first day of May and the tulips have only just come up and do they look fabulous. We're the only house on our street with flowers in our front lawn.

Earlier this month partner harvested a glop of frog eggs from the pond and put them into a jar on the patio. They all hatched and we have a pint of wriggly tadpoles with the barest beginnings of back legs. I always wanted to watch them grow from egg to frog when I was a kid but I never did. I think most of the eggs left in the pond got eaten by the fish and any left to hatch have probably been eaten by now too. However, if we keep ours till they grow up they'll be hopping on each other's shoulders to escape soon. But I guess at least one of them will have to stay in the jar, if only because the last one will have nothing left to stand on.

Monday, April 24, 2006

For a hot shower

It's getting light very early in the morning and stays that way quite late at night. I had a look out the window last night and could still see the end of the sunset at about nine o'clock.

Partner played his first baseball game of the season yesterday and he's groaning and moaning today. He played rugby as a teenager but damaged his back so he's not allowed to play sports that involve slamming people into the ground as a rule. Baseball isn't very big in this country, but it is possible to play semi-professionally, I think. He plays for an amateur team, however, named the Barnsley Strikers. I think that means they strike out a lot.

Yesterday I got home from work and it was about 60F and incredibly sunny. I was tired but the dog wasn't, so we went out into the backyard and threw her little ball around for an hour. She doesn't actually need me to throw the ball, seeing as she tosses it about herself, but I think she likes encouragement from me. At any rate, I can't leave her alone outside because she'll get into mischief like digging in my flowerbeds and chewing heads off flowers. We're still not entirely certain that she can't jump over the fence in the back. She'll sometimes stand against it and wag her tail, talking to the neighbor dog. I wouldn't mind too much, only there's a bit of a slope and what's a two foot jump over our fence is more like a four foot jump to get back. I remember when I was a kid my dog Pugsley dug a hole under the fence to the neighbor's house where her best friend lived. Pugsley, a Chinese Pug, could just scramble under the hole to play with him but he was a Springer spaniel and about two sizes bigger so he couldn't quite fit.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Falling off the back

In the run up to Easter, I have the entire weekend off, Friday and Monday included. So does partner. I don't know what we'll do but it will involve a lot of sleeping and veggifying. Maybe I'll do some writing. Or painting. Or housework. We were thinking of attending Good Friday service at the local church. Partner was baptised Church of England and was a regular churchgoer as a child, but neither of us really do church now, though I was thinking it might be nice to go once in a while. I like to sing and I like the rituals. With my new job I would have a chance to go to church every other week if I wanted. I've only been to a CofE service once, but it was pretty good I guess. I liked the guy in the dress and there was a nice choir and the stained glass windows were good. The only thing I didn't like was the lack of printed music in the hymnals; there was just words. I didn't know any of the tunes and I like to harmonize, but I need to read the music for that. Here in Britain you don't have to go to church because there is a kind of service played on tv every Sunday. So you can worship from your living room. With subtitles for all the hymns. No wonder there aren't many churchgoers these days: they all stay home and watch tv instead.

From what I know of CofE, it appeals to me. It's a very encompassing religion, and very benign. They don't have a rigid set of rules to follow, just some basic guidelines like don't murder anyone or covet asses. Their clergy are not celibate like the Catholics, and their head is a woman: the Queen of England. Their priests wear dresses. Even the men. Neat. Sign me up. And partner insists you don't have to believe in the Virgin Birth to join, although I'm not sure if that one's true. I like to go into churches, though, and listen to the silence and look at the architecture and meditate a little. I like it that churches are always open during the day for people who need them. I don't like it, however, that some of the big cathedrals here charge money for people who want to go in. Not during services, obviously, but during the week. I mean, I know the churches need the money, but I think tourists and parishioners alike put money in the collection box. There's no need to make it mandatory. It seems a bit sacrilegious, like something in the bible with the moneychangers in the temple.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The laundry basket

My New Job. I get up at six in the morning and leave for work an hour later. I bake things like scones and eclairs and muffins. I make big dinners for twenty. Today I made a chicken and vegetable pie from scratch. Everything from scratch. I even cut up whole chickens into bits for it. I also make traditional English desserts like treacle tart and bread and butter pudding. I finish work at about two or two-thirty. I like getting home early. It means I can watch my favorite Australian soap opera at six. And there's about four hours of daylight left this time of year. I have a lot of say into what I cook at work which is great. And I love cooking from scratch! The manager came in and asked if I'd ever made a chicken pie before. Well I hadn't, but I'd researched it the night before and learned all about it and it today was a success. My old job involved a lot of microwaving frozen premade stuff. I did cook things like steaks and burgers and eggs, obviously, but I didn't get to cook anything from scratch.

However, working at a rest home is kind of sobering. One of the residents died this morning and made me reflect on my own mortality. I would find it hard to be a carer. My gramma is a carer and I guess she must have dealt with death in her job, but it seems so tough. I think my gramma has it easier though, because she doesn't work for an institution, but rather privately in her clients' homes. So she isn't faced with an overwhelming sense of the inevitable, I would think. There are about twenty residents where I work and all of them are close to death. They may live another year or five years even but they may die in a week. I hadn't even met the man who died, but I was kind of sad about it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Free things

Remember my orchids? My best orchid for blooms has been Noname, the white one. She has had continuous flowers since I got her, and usually on several stems. Anastasia Romanoff has since flowered but is back to dormancy, but she was glamorous for several weeks. She's a dendrobium, and the rest are phaelanopsises. I have five altogether and three are flowering at the moment. I generally have three or four flowering at any given time.

Other flowers at the moment include daffodils and crocus in the yard. Our vibernum bush has a few buds, but I nearly murdered it last year with a pruning job gone bad. And the flowering currant is currently flowering. The frogs are finally doing what God put them on this earth to do--that is, multiply and replenish our pond. Partner says Lucy met her first frog this week and he found her at a respectful distance barking at it. He thinks she took a lick and decided not to get too close after all. He made frog versus dog faces at me to make me laugh. He does a good frog face.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Manchester tart

After work today I had the energy and the motivation to go out in my garden. I haven't done hardly any gardening because of aforementioned job, but that's all in the past. Last year I was a gardening fiend and I have loads to catch up on this spring. My mother-in-law suggested I plant more shrubs and perennials but personally I love annuals and flowerbeds. I love picking fresh flowers for vases in the house. I think our yard would be classified as a cottage garden. Informal with gallons of flowers growing willy-nilly.

Here's the tally so far:

  • Sweetpeas (planted out)
  • Cosmos (planted)
  • Cornflowers
  • Marigolds (planted)
  • Zinnias
  • Nicotiana (planted)
  • Tomatoes
  • Nemophilia (planted)
  • Carrots
  • Godetia (planted)
  • Fennel
  • Larkspurs (planted)
  • Lettuce (planted)
  • Bergamot (planted)
  • Lavendar (planted)
  • Snapdragons (planted)
  • Onions (planted out)
  • Aubretia
Today I planted out some seedlings and pulled a few weeds. My gardening duties this year have expanded to include picking up dog poo. And throwing various toys for dogs to play with. And relieving dogs of toys they are not allowed to play with, for example my gardening gloves. Have I mentioned how helpful the dog is when it comes to gardening?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Artist as a young woman

This week I worked two days at my new job. The first day I had the other cook with me, showing me the ropes. The second day I was by myself. All by myself. It was a little scary. I didn't know where much was, I had to come up with recipes by myself, and I had to choose what to serve for dessert. I serve breakfast (easy: cereal, toast, and oatmeal) and lunch, which is the main hot meal of the day. I made a cottage pie with two vegetables and gravy, and a choice of two desserts. I ended up making what is alternately called a custard tart or a baked egg custard, and fruit cocktail with ice cream. Not homemade ice cream, thankfully. But homemade custard tart. I had never had one, and had only heard of them the day before. But I guess it turned out okay, because most of them ate it. Oh yeah, did I mention where I work? I'm the cook at an old folks' home. I cook from scratch mostly and do baking as well as main meals. My first day I baked some jam tarts. They have little baked goods for their afternoon teas, as well as desserts with their lunches.

I'm getting used to the language around here, albeit slowly. At work, desserts are called puddings but at my old work, they were called sweets. Bathrooms are generally called toilets. That one was a hard one for me to say. The nurse asks you not to pee in the cup, but to wee in it; I almost laughed the first time I heard that. And people do not sit on their butts but their bums. To me, wee and bum are words a grandma would use to a child.

I've picked up my paintbrushes a little these past few weeks. Right now I'm making drafts for a big painting for our bedroom. It's of a red haired woman reclining on a fainting couch under a pear tree. It may or may not go up, depending on how well I like the subject matter. I really wish I had a model to paint from, but I don't know many artists' models. Plus, I couldn't pay one anyhow. It'd have to be an amateur and someone I know. However, I don't want it to be a portrait. So I don't want it to be someone I know! Maybe I should make it a red haired man instead and ask partner to pose for me. Last summer I did a few paintings of flowers from the garden. I have a nice one of some gladiolas in a vase. I'm quite proud of it. I might frame it and hang it up or give it away. I also went outside one day and painted our flower garden and the back of our house. I gave it to my mother when we visited in July.

It is my day off and father-in-law has returned to his home, so I get to clean. A thin layer of dust coats every surface in the house now, thanks to the sanded floors. I'm talking everything, from plants to curtains to walls. I have a major dusting and vacuuming adventure ahead of me.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Zombie noises at night

So far home improvements are going pretty well. What happens is this: husband and his father have a cup of tea. They discuss their plans. They finish their tea half an hour later, get out the tools and then have an argument for about three hours, by which time the project might be half done. I disappear onto the computer or playstation or possibly behind a book and try to stay out of it.

The closet doors have been made and they fit, so today they are getting finished. Or at least partially finished. The room looks so much bigger without the contents of the closet disgorged all over. I was worried that in the middle of the night, the closet clutter would reach out its polyester tentacles and creep slowly with intent to cause severe bodily harm. In the morning we'd wake up and find one of our number covered in loud stripes and polka dots, gibbering for mercy.

Yes, I'm extremely pleased with the closet doors and partner has even plastered part of the bare wall in the bathroom. The floor sander is being picked up today (Friday) and will be returned on Monday. Which incidently is when I begin my new job.

I'm not sure I want to talk about work yet, just to say that I'll be working fewer days than before and have more time off. Well, technically I won't really since I'm working the same amount of hours, but in my old job I worked split shifts which were a nightmare. They took up my whole day. This job is from 7.30 in the morning to 2.30 in the afternoon. So I get evenings off and will be working alternate weekends. I'm pleased about that. And I will work three to five days a week, but more three than five. With four weeks' paid holiday.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Or a caterpillar

My father-in-law is up staying with us while we do home improvements. So far wallpaper has been put up, and wall tiles have come down. I hated those wall tiles. They were so cheap looking and ugly. They were ceramic, but they covered the entire room floor to ceiling. And they weren't squares, they were long rectangles. And they had the stupidest outdated cloud pattern printed on them. Printed, I tell you. If you looked closely you could see the pixels. I always thought I liked ceramic tiles, but in this country they make em ug-lee. We had absolutely disgusting ones in the kitchen as well. I guess they were supposed to be stone-effect tiles, because they were jagged and pitted but they were a nightmare to clean and they kept cracking because they had been laid badly. I never had a look up close to them as they were on the floor, but I wouldn't be suprised if they were pixelated as well.

So our spare bedroom is pink with one wall papered with stripy wallpaper. It has an closet but no doors on it yet. And the floorboards will be sanded and varnished. It will be lovely.

Our bathroom is kind of a peacock blue at the moment, with one wall bare. We took out the shower as it was leaking badly and now have a tub/shower. We plan on putting in cupboards where the shower was. And attempting to sand and varnish the floorboards, but they have seen a lot of abuse so we might have to put down linoleum. Our bathroom is absolutely huge. We should put up a disco ball on the ceiling and hold dances in there.

I think that's all the home improvements we're doing this time around. Floors sanded/varnished, closet doors made. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Friday, March 17, 2006

The hamster wheel

I've spent the past two days doing absolutely what I want to do. I've been relishing the fact that I'm my own boss for the next week and a half. I want to do all kinds of creative things. But first I want to clean my house. I haven't been doing regular housework in months. Just about all that gets cleaned is the toilet and the kitchen. I change the sheets on our bed occasionally. Not much else. I just haven't had time for it. I mean, if I'm working all day from eleven thirty in the morning to nine at night, when I get home I don't want to be lugging a vacuum cleaner all around the house. I need to take a shower, sit down, unwind. Then when I'm unwound it's midnight and time for bed. Not a good cycle to be in.

I'm also catching up on some sleep. I haven't been sleeping well the past few months. I kept having dreams that I would go to work and something so stressful would happen that I'd just walk out. And then I would wake up and realize I actually had to go back to work. Like even in my sleep I couldn't get away from work.

It was a nice get-together the other night, however. They all showed up except for one, but I guess that's ok. Everyone said good luck and the managers told me I could have my job back if things didn't work out. I said thank you very graciously. We left at nearly midnight in the firm knowledge that I NEVER HAVE TO GO BACK. Dear God, that is such a wonderful feeling.

Ok enough moaning. On to the future. I'm going to clean my house.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It's the pronunciation

My job is now over. I never have to go back. Well, I have to go back tonight. But not to work. I invited all my coworkers to meet me for a drink there. And then I never have to go back. I'm so glad.

I got a computer game for Christmas this year that I've been playing tons. It's the Sims2. It's great. I forgot how much I loved the sims until I got this game. I love watching them grow up and sometimes I get anxious waiting for them to die. It's fun to make them have nervous breakdowns and throw tantrums and get rejected by the love of their lives. It's also fun to have them succeed in life. Almost as fun as having them fail. I have a whole neighborhood of sims and I'm working on their bloodlines and genetics. I'm trying to weed out certain genetic traits that make for funny looking faces. Only it does take time, seeing as sims just don't grow up overnight. Maybe if I was up all night playing they would.

Since I've moved to England, I've adopted a new pronunciation of my name. My parents call me guh-LAY-dree-el. I call myself guh-LAA-dree-el. AA as in cat or dad. It's kind of a new name without changing anything really. New name, new identity.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

No name no address please

I guess I must be back. I thought I was gone for good but apparently I'm not. Good for me.

I guess I quit writing because I had a sudden upsurge in my work schedule resulting in a noticeable lack of free time. I've been working like hell for the past months and getting more and more stressed but I've given my notice at work. I only have one week left at that job. And then I will never work nights again. Ever. I will work days only, alternate weekends, and I will have time off to pursue my other talents such as writing.

But I don't want to talk about work.

We have a new dog and her name is Lucy. I was going to upload a pic of her, but I can't seem to find it now. She's part Staffordshire terrier and is currently trying to open the door to the stairs by turning the handle with her paws. Lucky for us all she isn't pulling the handle, otherwise she'd have it open. As it is, she's just making deep score marks in the door with her claws and a muddy circle around the handle. She tries to open the closet door for some reason as well. Not sure about that one. There's only coats and shoes and a vacuum in there. But she does like feet so maybe that's it.

One of my friends is writing a novel. I started to write a novel but that was before I had to work so much. Maybe I'll pick it up again in a week. I've just read partner's blog and he's a good writer himself, but I really knew that anyway from all the emails he used to send me. He's been stressed out as well, but I've kind of phased out his stress because of my own. I think I should be more attentive. I wonder if he's read my blog? Maybe I should email the link to him. Thing is, I'm kind of embarrassed that I haven't kept it up. But I have an excuse (or so I keep telling myself).

A lot has happened since I last wrote, but this post would go on for days if I tried to recount everything. I guess I'll just go over what's happened recently.

a) Dog. Has been mentioned.
b) Job. See above.
c) Various Household Minidisasters. We have no kitchen floor, a hole in the bathroom floor, and deep score marks in the door to the upstairs.
d) Money. We had to wait three months after our mortgage was approved to actually receive the money and were nearly reduced to bathing in the pond and eating Ramen every night. Oh yeah, we got the money one week before Christmas. Excellent timing.

And thus it ends, but I think I will be back.