Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I'm trying not to think about it all too hard right now but the problem is I have a lot of time to think about it too hard right now. I think I may have mentioned that I'm living in a hotel. I know it's just stuff and we have insurance and didn't I learn this lesson when we moved to the UK and I left lots of the 'stuff' I loved behind and still managed to survive??? I guess we all know it's the memories associated with our 'stuff' that cannot be replaced. Anyway, hubs and I have decided to move out of the hotel and into the house. We do have a bed there that came out of storage so I'll get some sheets and we'll camp out a bit. I guess we can eat out every night there just as easily as we can eat out here.
I was in the car when my husband called to break the news and practically as soon as I hung up the skies literally burst open. You may have heard that it rains in England. And rains. And rains. But it seldom RAINSRAINSRAINSRAINS. I haven't seen rain and lightning like this in years. In fact we rarely ever saw lightning in England. It kind of fit with my day though.
I met the alarm repairman at the house this morning. He was there for his second visit (same company, different guy). The alarm company's second visit followed the phone company's third visit which seemed to finally do the trick and now both phone and alarm are working. The repairman asked me where we'd moved from and when I said England he said, "Who do you support?" Ahh...British football fans....it made me smile.
The plumber has been to the house too. He came out after the appliance repairman who couldn't repair the dryer. Which is why the appliance repairman is coming back tomorrow with a new dryer. See what I mean about my day? My month? The fence guy has been out too. He'll be back. And we still need to deal with the internet...we have the components and are picking up our new computer tonite so here's hoping it all comes together. Based on how it's all working so far I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be seeing the internet guy soon too. I can't say I've made any real new friends yet but I am certainly getting well acquainted with the service industry in Northern New Jersey.
Oh, and I got my new checks today. The bank somehow managed to put one line of my British address and one line of my American address on them. A foot on both continents. Perfect. That's exactly how I feel.
And we've also realized that we are back in the land of the doggy bag and this is pretty much an American thing. In the 6 years we spent living abroad we never once took home a doggy bag. And I don't think we were ever even asked if we wanted one. And we pretty much never needed one. We just were not given the humongous portions of food that you get in US restaurants. Honestly sometimes a portion here is the equivalent of what I'd prepare for my entire family if I cooked the same meal at home. If I were actually living in my house and cooking any meals that is. And no I'm not feeling antsy or anything.
It does seem though, like its hard to get a small anything...we ordered a small soda the other day and I think it was 16 oz. That's a small? That used to be a large.
There are so many things to get used to in this whole repatriation experience. I'm just hoping supersized everything isn't one of them.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Yesterday we spent the afternoon waiting waiting waiting at the house for the TV install. They give you a four hour window and of course they arrive at hour 3.59. And technically the TV is not completely installed yet but that would be a whole 'nother post. We did manage to make good use of our time though ...my husband cleaned the hardwood floors and scoured the grill that has been in storage. And I spent most of the day shredding old office paperwork and washing dishes. I didn't even mind though because I haven't seen my china and crystal in six years and I was happy to discover that I love them every bit as much today as I did when I got married 25 years ago.
And if you're still reading you may be wondering what this has to do with groundhogs? Well... I was happily washing china when my husband called out those dreaded words, " Come quick and look at this!" I think you know what that means....we stood in our sunroom and watched as a very small fox methodically went into the groundhog hole and came out with a groundhog...in his mouth. He kindly laid it on a rock for all the world to see and then (and I'm not making this up) he looked us straight in the eye. It was kind of like one of those staring contests I used to have with my sister when we were kids. I think I know why they call them sly. And cunning. And I'd love to post a picture but have I mentioned that I'm living in a hotel? STILL?
We had many a fox in our garden in England but they somehow seemed tame. In fact one year a fox made a little nest and had its babies in my side yard. So cute. But this one...not so much. He was more like the creepy fox who led Pinocchio astray. He left the groundhog on the rock until we finally moved away from the window. I was worried he was going to leave it there permanently but my husband said there was no way the fox wouldn't come back for his dinner. Sure enough, as soon as we walked away from the window he scooped it up and ran off into the woods.
And you were worried I wouldn't have anything to write about here. What I really can't believe is that a month ago I was chatting about French champagne. Today it's a dead groundhog and a sly fox. No worries though...I'm rollin' with the changes.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
There are so many words and expressions the Brits use that I love. I've written about quite a few of those words and expressions in my posts here and here and here, and wow, here too....I guess I really do like them. Which is why I'm going to continue to use some of them. To be honest some of these words just slip out without me realizing it. Like rubbish bin. And mobile. And petrol. And surname. I can't tell you how many times in the past three weeks I've been asked over the phone for my name and I've replied, 'My surname is...' It's habit. You are never asked for your 'last name' in England, it's always your surname. Just like you never say 'to go' or 'carry out'. It's always 'take away'. My husband still makes fun of me because one of my earliest experiences in England was ordering food 'to go' over the phone from an Indian restaurant and it turned into a kind of bad Abbott and Costello routine. I think I may have cried. And I definitely hung up without ordering. I made my husband call back to place the order...he loves a challenge.
I used the word queue the other day. I love that word. It slipped right out at the DMV and the woman behind the counter gave me a funny look. She also managed to give me a new license with minimal aggravation. They pretty much do everything but take blood when you apply for a license in this state so my husband and I were pretty pleased with ourselves in obtaining ours on Saturday. Small victories.
My husband says 'Cheers' to the guy at the hotel counter pretty much every day. I'm quite certain he thinks we're hitting the sauce in our hotel room. After all, we've been living here for almost a month so he probably wouldn't blame us, but we're not. It's just a friendly way of saying thanks, bye.
Oh, and I have to laugh when I'm asked why I don't speak with a British accent. If you've been reading my blog imagining me with an accent I hope you aren't too disappointed. I'd love to have an accent but alas, growing up in the Philadelphia area doesn't give one a British accent. For the record I don't say yous guys either. That's just wrong. I did go to uni in Tennessee and picked up a Southern accent in a matter of seconds. And I've lived a lot of my married life in the south and people sometimes hear that in my speech. Uni! That's another one. That would be college to the Americans but it's referred to as university in the UK. And it's often shortened to uni. In the UK college usually means something between school and university. Or you might be talking about a school within a university...for instance Oxford University is home to 38 colleges.
Anyway, you'll continue to see some British words and phrases pop up in my blog because I like them. And because sometimes I forget where I am living. But mostly I just like them. In fact....I think they're brilliant. Told you I was going to use that word here.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We've been traipsing back and forth between hotel and house doing what we can to make a house that is still pretty much without furniture feel like home. And by that I mostly mean giving our credit card a real workout. It's a little bit like starting out as a newly married couple only without the benefit of all the bridal shower/wedding gifts. I realized today that we still don't have a rubbish bin or a broom. Or a few hundred other little essentials. Not that I've ever given anyone a broom for a wedding present but you know what I mean.
I kind of hesitated to post this next little gem on my blog because my mother reads here and she won't like this. Last week as the movers were unloading our storage container into our new house the lawn guys arrived to mow the grass. I know we're not actually living there full time yet but my gosh it has been raining day and night and the grass is loooong. My first introduction to the lawn guys was my husband calling me outside because 'look what the lawn guys found'. And let me just say upfront I hate playing this sort of game because I know it will involve something disgusting.
And I was right....it was a deer leg. And not to be too graphic but there wasn't a deer attached to it. Ewww. Much manly conversation ensued after which they all agreed that this was not the work of a bear but more likely a bobcat. Terrific. I knew we'd have bears, deer, skunks, foxes, raccoons, turkey vultures, and chipmunks but I had not really planned on bobcats. Welcome to The Garden State. If you've only seen NJ from the turnpike then all of this probably comes as a bit of a surprise to you...when you think of NJ you think oil refinery, smog and traffic. But you would only be partially correct because once you get off the turnpike there is a whole lot of very beautiful countryside.
We've also made the acquaintance of two groundhogs who have set up a comfy little home in the rock wall in our back garden. We discovered the entrance to their little hotel when we opened the car door and our very ladylike dog made a beeline for an opening in the wall. She managed to get her supermodel body (she's tall and thin) stuck halfway thru said hole before my husband finally yanked her out but not without alot of dripping sweat, brute strength and an expletive or two. Or ten.
Actually the dog is the teensiest bit distressed. I take her with me to the house each day and she walks from room to room and thinks we've lost our marbles. She wonders why we've moved her to a house without any furniture??? Every now and then she presses her nose up to everysinglewindow in the house and pants at the critters just beyond her reach. She is a bird dog and the hunting instinct runs strong. And it won't be squashed. Which is why I've got a fence company arriving on Friday. You're relieved aren't you?
Thursday, June 18, 2009
My husband and I had talked for weeks about what in the world was in that container. We remembered it as a small amount but the moving company informed us it was 7500 pounds so apparently alot more went into storage than we remember. We knew there would be some furniture...our white couch that serves up great naps, our practically new pool table which is now six years old but barely used, a few appliances...Hello Kitchen Aid mixer-Oh how I've missed you! We were prepared to see these items once again and to face a lot of junk too. I mean, if you've lived without something for six years how badly can you need it?
What we were not prepared for was the walk down memory lane straight thru the childhood days of our daughters. It began when I innocently opened a box marked linens only to find a small basket of naked barbies (are there any other kind?). These were the 'bathtub barbies' and many a happy bathtime was spent with these dolls deep in conversation. Sigh. In a box of tools my husband stumbled across a sweet little diaper bag filled with Bitty Baby accessories. There was the overhead projector Daughter2 asked for on her 10th birthday (her desire to be a teacher started very early). There were enough American Girl dolls and furniture to possibly require their own bedroom (thank you Mema). And inside what used to be our games cabinet...a small poster written in a child's hand that read, "Don't just stop and wave, Stop and buy some koolaid". Gulp. There were field hockey sticks and hula hoops, a soccer ball, a sled, roller blades for little feet, even all the camping gear took us back to the days of little girls. Little girls who sat on your lap and hugged your neck, who needed tucking in at night, who made up whole worlds with dolls and dress ups and who served us tea and play food in their pretend restaurant.
These days those little girls are college students cooking real food on a real stove, driving cars instead of roller blades, still dressing up but not in their grandmother's Hawaiian mu'u mu'u anymore. We moved to England during what was our daughter's transition from girlhood to teenager and now young adult. I didn't realize we were leaving childhood behind when we left the US but in essence that's what we did. Lots of happy memories were packed into that storage container in 2003. And yesterday, a moving van and a naked barbie brought them all back.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
We celebrated our 20th anniversary in the little town of Amalfi on the coast of Italy. Technically we spent our 20th wedding anniversary at daughter2's 8th grade graduation ceremony in England which was nice and all but...we took our anniversary trip the following March and although it was late we considered it a celebration of our 20th and truly, anytime is a good time to see Italy.
We stayed in one of my favorite hotels, The Santa Caterina, which is perched into the cliffside of Amalfi with a restaurant that juts out over the crystal clear blue sea. So beautiful.
We spent the days wandering around the little villages along the coast...The village of Ravello was probably our favorite. And it's not just because I loaded up on Italian pottery there.
They grow up the side of the steep hills and they don't look like any lemons I've ever seen. On a visit to the market in town I pointed to a lemon and asked the shopkeeper what the fruit was thinking it was some kind of combination of a lemon and something else. But, no, this is just how the lemons grow here.
There is a very pretty little 11th century 'duomo' (church) in Amalfi, The Church of St. Andrew, and it contains the remains of the disciple Andrew. We visited the church one day and then spent time sipping Espressos at a cafe in the square. Fantastico!
On our last day here we visited Pompeii. The size of it is absolutely staggering.
I don't know what I was expecting but you could walk thru mile upon mile of ruins. Mt. Vesuvius sits back in the distance and there were excursions up there but we didn't do that on this trip.
I could go on and on about Italy but since it's our anniversary I probably should at least mention my husband. He'll understand because he loves Italy as much as I do and we both look back at our trip to Amalfi as one of our favorites. And... I'd love to post a picture from my wedding day but my wedding album is currently traveling across the sea and most other photos from the day are in my storage container which is being delivered tomorrow.
My husband has a special birthday coming up this year so I plan to write more about him then but for now, if I were to tell you what I love most about him it would be this... he loves life, he isn't afraid to try new things, he never met a stranger, and he can make me laugh. He has worked hard all of our married life and is a wonderful provider. He is also a terrific father who adores his sweet daughters.
You know when you get to the empty nest stage in life its kind of like returning to where you began (except of course you're a whole lot older)....I look forward to spending the next 25 with you...my h. l. ... Happy Anniversary...
Saturday, June 13, 2009
A friend told me she had the same 'problem' with mustard. She was visiting her mother in law in Texas and she was sent out to the market for mustard. She neglected to ask which type and it never occurred to her that she'd have 400 varieties to choose from. In England there aren't one quarter of the choices you have here...you go to buy a vacuum and there are two...which do you want? Easy peasy. When I first moved to England that lack of choice was a teensy bit annoying. But you adjust your expectations and eventually I grew to like the simplicity. I mean do I really need 7000 cereals to choose from? I suppose I'll re-adjust my expectations once again and grow to love all the choice but for now it's a bit overwhelming. Obviously. Because I did just write a whole post about buying salad dressing.
Today my husband and I are off to buy televisions and a refrigerator. Don't worry though...I've got my Advil. Extra Strength. The jumbo bottle. Only in America.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Yesterday was my daughter1's 21st birthday and we spent the weekend with her in South Carolina. I wanted to post yesterday but we were traveling and there were delays upon delays so by the time we got back to our 'home away from home' in NJ I was too tired. She knows me so she'll understand. In honor of her special day, here are
1. She is kind. Perhaps kinder than any person I've ever known. She has a soft heart and cries for lonely people, for hurting people, at cruelty in the world...she wants to make the world a better place.
2. She is gentle. She has always had an instinct about people. She knows when you need a hug, a laugh, a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, or quiet. Being around her soothes my soul.
4. She has a deep and growing faith.
5. She used to be 'fraidy-scared' of pretty much everything but at about the age of 14 her father's genes kicked in and she is now my adventure lover.
6. She sings beautifully. Again, she can thank her father for that.
7. She is my beach baby...sun, sand, surf....they are her favorite things and the place she is the happiest.
8. She is a volunteer Young Life leader and loves the time she spends playing her guitar for club each week, performing in silly skits, and sharing her faith with her group of highschool girls.
9. She is petite. In the extreme.
10. She takes beautiful pictures and loves photography.
11. She loves beauty...art, music, nature, sunshine, clouds, the great outdoors.
12. She loves to read...anything from Rob Bell to Historical English novels She is a great one to take to English Castles because she can always tell us who is related to whom and how.
13. She causes people to have hair envy.
14. She plays the guitar...there may be just a bit of the flower child in her too. She loves all kinds of music and has everything from country to Tchaikovsky, from David Crowder to The Beatles on her ipod.
16. She is a natural born ballerina.
17. She likes to cook.
18. She loves to ski.
19. She has a soft spot in her heart for her Daddy.
20. She used to hate change...moving to England at the age of 15 after 9 years in the same house, town and school system were hard for her. But she survived. Not only did she survive, she thrived. In fact, she more than thrived. She fell in love with something different and new. She has friends all around the globe. She loves to discover new cities, new foods, new cultures. She discovered that she can do something hard and she can like it. She can love it. That doing something hard can make her life better and give her a sense of independence and confidence, and most especially a sureness that God is with her wherever in the world she goes. This she may not have learned any other way.
21. She has brought more joy into my life than I ever imagined possible.
Happy birthday my sweet girl!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
We're feeling a little overwhelmed today. There is so much to take in I'm not sure where to begin. How about I start with our utilities set up. About a week ago, while still in the UK, I rang the telephone company only to discover that these days the telephone company is actually the internettelevisiontelephone company. The very nice girl on the line was just talking and talking and talking and I finally had to interject that I didn't have a clue what she was talking about and I would be hanging up now. In all honesty as soon as she started talking about bundles and 3.0 or 6.5 or 2.4 I wanted to put my fingers in my ears and sing lalalalala. I told my husband he would need to sort this out so he called today and his call went pretty much like mine...still no phone/tv/internet set up organized...hopefully the third time will be the charm. It's kind of hard to believe but when we moved overseas six years ago we only owned a couple of DVD's. They were just becoming popular and everything was still in VHS format. Now it's all High Def and Blue Ray and XYZ ...as the saying goes, tomorrow is another day.
Speaking of tomorrow... we are going to South Carolina to see our girlies for the weekend. And can I tell you we are excited??!! Nothing says home like your kiddos. Funnily enough there are Scottish Highland Games happening down south this weekend. A little taste of the United Kingdom right in Greenville South Carolina. Who knew? And my sweet Daughter1 is celebrating her 21st birthday this weekend...I cannot believe that little bitty baby girl who looked me right in the eye the moment she was born is already a full grown person. Well, she's still little bitty. And she's still adorable. And sweet. I'm going to write a birthday post for her on her actual birthday which is Sunday.
We're off to walk the dog now. And by walk I mean stroll around the hotel complex which is large and very green. Actually our pup is loving life in our temporary housing....the grounds are full of squirrels and bunnies and Dixie is doing her darndest to catch one before we leave here. Earlier today she was surprised by a mama duck who came screaming and squawking out of a bush she'd stuck her nose in and now she goes stealth everytime she leaves the building. This is just a precursor to her new home...we have lots of woods on our new property and with woods come critters so Dixie is in for some excitement. I guess that means we are too. The last time we lived in NJ we had a sweet dog by the name of Abbey and she experienced the 'excitement' of the great outdoors...chased a bear cub up a tree and cornered a skunk who thanked her as only a skunk can. I was pregnant at the time and if you've ever been pregnant you know the whole smell thing is dicey anyway. Oh, and we were driving to my moms for the Easter weekend just two days later and that skunk scent really lingers. Good times. Good times.
Thank you for the kind thoughts, emails and comments. I'm a bit behind in reading posts but will be catching up in the next week or so. Moving house has seriously cut into my computer time. Cheers...Joyce
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I'm writing this from the British Airways lounge at Heathrow. We're waiting for our flight and so far the day has gone very smoothly. We had to arrive extra early because we had to first take our pup to the BA Cargo terminal and get her checked in. She will be on our flight but travels as cargo. She was very well behaved during the check in procedure which is more than I can say for her first night in the hotel this past week. Let's just say that five nights in a small hotel room with five ginormous suitcases, one very large dog crate and the very large dog to go in it certainly go a long way in making you feel ready to move on to the next thing!
As a little gift, we've had the absolute most spectacular weather this past week (you didn't think I'd leave the UK without mentioning the weather did you?) It has been glorious and you can't help but be a little bit happy in all this sunshine.
A few people have asked me what I'll blog about once I move back to the states. No worries...I have loads to say all the time...just ask anyone who knows me....