Archive for September, 2008

Fringe ’08

September 29, 2008

As promised, I’ve been trying to catch up with the summer’s photos. I’ve become one of those annoying touristy people, always snapping pictures of things (albeit strange things usually), but I’ve found that if I take a picture I’m much more likely to remember some commentary on the lives we lead. I could scribble notes, but they get lost. And let’s be honest..photoless posts are a lot more tedious to read.

So, our first show of the season was a Star Wars-themed drama workshop for Joseph. He thought that was quite grand, so well done me. He generally gives me that ‘no thank you’ with the hopeful ‘please don’t force me to do this’ expression on his face when I suggest drama activities.

Then, once we managed finally to find the venue (a most awful little box constructed in a parking lot), we saw A History of Scotland in 60 Minutes or less, which was really really brilliant. The cast is just charming. I never would have thought of so many prop uses for a crappy Argos rolling clothing rail. We then found the next venue. The kids didn’t mind waiting, the reason for which you can see below:

There were bins of candy. Freee candeeeee.

The show itself was a sort of experimental dark comedy for children called ‘Shut Up Stupid.’ I thought, from the description, that it was going to be a semi-educational show that focused on the naughtier side of linguistics. It was, er, not. It was a play about a fantastically, violently dysfunctional couple. There were a lot of parents sort of looking around a few minutes into it, wondering if we were indeed in the right place. Now, I’m not one to talk down to kids, but I do believe certain forms of humour evolve at certain ages and wasn’t sure the kids would like it. They appreciated the absurdist elements, predictably, and had a good time so fair enough I suppose.

Our last show was Bale de Rua, a dance show put on by a couple dozen men and one female from Brazil.

Quite the venue.

Nyssa reveling in the rain.

It was fantastic. Joseph initially was really upset by the loud drumming and I hoped and hoped I could convince him to tolerate it, because Nyssa and I were really enjoying ourselves. The performance included elements of samba, hip hop, capoiera, break dance, interpretive dance, etc. etc. The following two videos are ones I found on Youtube of the group from their tour in Paris. The last one shows the opening number as we saw it in Edinburgh. Granted, it’s a crappy audience member video, but the music and smiling dancers make me quite happy, and the troupe in their trilbies and white suit jackets are quite, quite attractive.

Our next day in Edinburgh was less successful. We had a great deal of flooding in Scotland this summer, and this was Edinburgh’s day for it. This is a shot of the tracks I got on the way home:

The flooded tracks meant we got into and out of the station at a crawl, and we managed to miss Nyssa’s drama workshop, boo. We did have just enough time before the next show to run to Cafe Nero where the most notable occurrence was my not seeing the ‘no debit or credit cards’ sign and having to go find an ATM to pay for my coffee. We hustled to see the drama class’ proper adult theatre company put on a Star Wars-themed showing of Rapunzel. Honestly, it was painful. I didn’t know it was possible to mangle an American accent so badly, but there it was, plus bonus bravado. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t taken away my coffee.. In any case, the kids adored it, so I suppose it was worth going. I can’t remember what we did for the rest of the day, but I imagine it involved warm drinks and indoor activities. We tried to get a pre-rush hour train home, knowing how awful getting out of the city was going to be, and did succeed in getting home at a reasonable time.

The next week our day to Edinburgh was sort of a wash..sort of literally. My public transport alarms should have gone off as soon as we got on the bus:

Your eyes are not deceiving you..the floor of the bus, the first run of the day, is flooded. I should have known better. I told the driver I had heard that there was flooding on the way to Ladybank, where we were to catch the train. He said he hadn’t tried it yet. *sigh* So I paid him the money and we were off. A couple miles out and we practically needed oars.

At least Nyssa enjoyed the huge sprays of water hitting the window. Goof. We did make it to Ladybank. The bus pulled away, and we made our way to the station. We got as far as the parking lot when a Scotrail lady came and told us that there would be no trains. The way north to Dundee is flooded and there has been a landslide on the way south to Markinch. FFS. So we went to see about catching the bus to Edinburgh. We waited a couple hours until we were finally informed by those cripplingly uninformed people at Traveline that no buses would be coming either. We waited for a bus back home. We waited and waited. We dinked around in a town with only a corner shop to its name for a couple hours until we were informed that there wouldn’t even be any buses back home. How they managed to get us there in the first place was some great mystery to them. So, I grudgingly paid the £20 or so to get a taxi all the way back. I was a lovely storm cloud walking in the front door.

I was really disappointed because we had the kids’ expensive circus skills workshop booked, Nyssa and I were going to see Hair, Joseph and James were going to see some kid-oriented standup comedy, and then James was going to see a talk by one of his favourite authors, Iain M. Banks. Hoping I could salvage something, I rang around and around, trying to get a hold of someone at the circus company. They were kind enough to let me use the tickets for the next day’s workshops. Hooray! So I penciled in some other shows the kids and I could go to afterward and we tried once more to get into Edinburgh.

This time we were successful, on time even! It required my first navigation via Edinburgh’s city buses, and that wasn’t any trouble either. For the circus workshop we had to go to a Scout Camp on the edge of town.

Some definite contrast in scenery.

And now for some skills!

(I love the smile on his face!)

Joseph was really hesitant to come and try this stuff, but he put on his bravest face and he did it! He can be his own worst enemy at times and will cripple himself with self-doubt. Sometimes we have to be really mean and push him fairly forcefully, but so far he’s had no regrets and has more reasons to be confident. Fingers crossed that this sort of parenting doesn’t land him in therapy later..:P

The next show is something I picked because it was at the right time and looked intriguing. It is called Wheels of Life and is comprised of fantastical machines made by eccentric Russian sculptor Eduard Bersudsky (creator of the Millenium Clock Tower in Edinburgh’s Royal Museum) which are choreographed by Tatyana Jakovsyaka to sounds and music that is vintage, charming, frenetic, old worldly, at times a bit frightening.

Please, please look through this gallery and the other collections to see his ‘kinemats’ (kinetic sculptures). If nothing else, you’ll never have seen more unique repurposing of old sewing machines.

I adore this kinemat, called ‘Self-portrait with Monkey’, who moved along to a gorgeous, husky Russian folk song.

Our next stop was a production of Seussical the Musical put on by kids from an American high school in Utah, of all places. They were quite wonderful, the boy who placed The Cat, in particular. Horton had a beautiful voice, and his little bird friend was adorable. We hung around afterwards to chat with them, give our grateful congratulations, etc. It’s sometimes just nice to see Americans en masse. Not too often, mind. 😉

This face makes all the trouble of making her happy worth it.

A few other random things we saw..

African children singing and dancing and drumming in Jenners. No, the irony wasn’t lost on me, thanks.

The Fringe wouldn’t be the same without silver 80s dancing guy.

A more familiar sight, though far, far from home.

I dunno, a double-decker bus with learner plates struck me as funny.

Two nice enough girls being accosted by some creepy man.

Meeting Francesca Simon, the author of Horrid Henry, Nyn’s favorite series of books.

A more modern take on Highland Dance at the Royal Museum.

The weekend of the book festival friend Kirsten was hugely kind enough to take Nyssa and Joseph to her house for the night so James and I, gasp, could do something grownup. So we did–we saw Rich Hall (who made fun of my coming from Idaho..which is really something as he comes from Montana, generally seen by us as the hick neighbors, but I digress) who I adore and Jimmy Carr, who was actually a bit obnoxiously offensive. I must be getting old. Particularly as we left early due to a guy behind us making life unbearable. Imagine the most grotesque, nightmarish snoring you’ve ever heard. Translate that into a laugh, plug it into an amp and sit right in front of it. It was either leave or get myself arrested for assault. Fortunately, we had a nightclub sort of event to go to in the very same building, bless. I danced for ages to vintagey music and James, er, drank Moscow Mules and watched all the very pretty people. After that we bought crepes from a street vendor and, oh my goodness, went to a hotel without kids in tow. I ordered a huge room service breakfast. Our now very funny-seeming end to our day was stopping into the Bank of Scotland museum. I took a long look at the big engraved chart showing its history of acquisitions and changings of hand, haha. I love morbid hindsight. James had wanted to visit for a while, so I suppose it’s good that he did before the place shut down. I can’t imagine they’re going to keep it open and rename it the Lloyds TSB Museum of Buying Up Scotland’s Fiscal Heritage…

Oh yes, on a slightly less dour note (sorta), James and I did hang out in the National Museum for a while. There was a special exhibition on life in the Arctic North. I took this picture of a picture to show the kids when they start whining about their chores:

McCain vs Obama

September 29, 2008

So I watched the last half of the debate..because you have to be an insomniac in the UK to be up-to-the-minute with US politics. Of course by the time I’ve gotten around to posting this, it’s really old hat. Ah well. Some noteworthy things were said.

Most surprising was the number of commentators who thought that McCain did really well. I thought he was both patronizing and nervous, and was much too emotive for proper debate. Then I remember that I’ve lived in the UK for four years and have forgotten that that sort of BS works back home.

Some extra-bollocksy ideas from McCain:

“What I have proposed for a long time, and I’ve had conversation with foreign leaders about forming a league of democracies, let’s be clear and let’s have some straight talk.” Super Democracy League! Basically the UN, but without the annoyance of having to have anyone agree with us. This is unsurprising really, as he comes from the party that founded the Ramrod School of Evangelistic Democracy.

“..the fragile sacrifice that we’ve made of American blood and treasure, which grieves us all.” Let’s be honest–it’s been chinese treasure that we’ve spent. (Obama: “They now hold a trillion dollars’ worth of our debt.”)

“I looked into Mr. Putin’s eyes, and I saw three letters, a “K,” a “G,” and a “B.” And their aggression in Georgia is not acceptable behavior.” Whether or not his assessment of the Georgia situation is correct, is that sort of talk really helpful? Does Putin publicly say, “I look into Senator McCain’s eyes and I see 4 letters–PTSD!”?

“My reading of the threat from Iran is that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is an existential threat..” Hmm, it not then the French who are really behind our nuclear crises? I mean we already know that they’re the unspoken point on le axis of evil, wantonly disagreeing with us as they are apt to do..

Some less bollocksy points from Obama:

“And the problem, John, with the strategy that’s been pursued was that, for 10 years, we coddled Musharraf, we alienated the Pakistani population, because we were anti-democratic. We had a 20th-century mindset that basically said, “Well, you know, he may be a dictator, but he’s our dictator.”” Hahaha..Thank you!

“He would not meet potentially with the prime minister of Spain.” Enough said, really.

“You’re absolutely right that presidents have to be prudent in what they say. But, you know, coming from you, who, you know, in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and, you know, sung songs about bombing Iran, I don’t know, you know, how credible that is.” He shares my bad habit of profusely scattering ‘you know’s throughout sarcastic commentary, but the point stands. Bomb-bomb-bomb..bomb-bomb-Iran..

“I — I don’t think that Senator Obama understands..” followed by only vaguely related name and event dropping. It’s funny for him to imply that Obama lacks experience. Twenty-some-odd years of making dodgy decisions in government don’t uniquely qualify a person to make good decisions as president. One might be forgiven for assuming the opposite. I also have to say that it disappoints me a great deal that Obama is accused of coming across of professorial. You mean coming across as studied and composed, and, dare I say, intellectual is considered a flaw in the US? God help us..

Following on from that was the bit about the bracelet. He’s got a special one from a mom wanting one thing. Obama has one from another mom wanting another. McCain touts himself as being the champion of the veterens–condescendingly, if you ask me, like they are so many orphaned puppies–while Obama is the one to have said that no soldier ever dies in vain, period.

McCain: “And I love them. And I’ll take care of them. And they know that I’ll take care of them. And that’s going to be my job.” Look, this is going to sound really bad, but whenever McCain talks about veterans that Charlie Daniels ‘Still in Saigon’ song plays in my head. Nobody doubts his connection, but I think that sort of emotionalism makes a person fairly myopic in a job that requires a level of detachment. The republican party is not known for investment in social issues, even veteran-related ones. Maybe this is where the ‘Maverick’ bit is supposed to kick in? Sheesh..

Obama: “And one last point I want to make. It is important for us to understand that the way we are perceived in the world is going to make a difference, in terms of our capacity to get cooperation and root out terrorism. And one of the things that I intend to do as president is to restore America’s standing in the world…we, I think, are going to have a lot of work to do in the next administration to restore that sense that America is that shining beacon on a hill.” Wouldn’t that be something? I mean, I’m not going to hold my breath, but it is nice to hear someone talk as though we are citizens of the world and not simply out to play King of the Mountain on a grand scale.

I could go back and read the first part of the debate, which apparently focused on the economy, but I don’t have the energy. I will, however, share my new life goal–to get a presidential candidate to wear my toe ring.

Manhattan Chowder

September 26, 2008

When I was pregnant, I lived on Campbell’s Manhattan Clam chowder. I know, it sounds gross, but the broth was spicy enough to help with nausea and the potatoes made it seem like I was actually getting some food down. Anyway, I was thinking about it the other day when I was feeling ugh, and wondered if I couldn’t make a passable vegetarian version. I came up with something that tastes not in the least bit fishy, so I don’t think I can even add a clam in quotes to the recipe title, but James liked it a lot and it has the added benefit of being a slow cooker dish.

1 bunch chopped celery
15 or so small potatoes, chopped (it’s what I had that needed using)
1 can italian style chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups V8
1 1/2 cups passata
2/3 cups white wine
2 cups or so weak vegetable stock
2 T worcestershire sauce (biona makes a veggie one)
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
1 1/2 T dried thyme
1/2 t onion powder
tabasco, salt, and pepper to taste

Put the above in the crock pot and turn it on. 😛 Four hours seemed plenty, but that will depend on your machine.

Scaredy People Don’t Look

September 23, 2008

Hehe. It’s those black eyes what steal your soul.

Nyssa’s new room, random things

September 22, 2008

The situation of our house is a bit odd. Our house faces sideways, with a long pie-shaped garden to the front. We look out directly onto the Lomond Hills ahead, and to the right is farmland. At the bottom of the garden is park area with a burn (stream). This is the view when you walk back up the hill a bit and look off to the right.

Looking down at the stream. Our house would be sorta behind that. There’s quite a lot of water at the moment, no doubt from earlier flooding still draining into the Eden.

I did a lot of present wrapping this week. This is Mitu inspecting Nyssa’s birthday present haul from Mum and Dad and Joseph. Dad was so excited for her to have the Lego Hospital (the purple one) that that one’s already been opened, 7 or so days short of her bithday. Sillies.

Apparently I decided that buttons are excellent wrapping accessories. I do love them, I have to admit..

Also wrapped some things to send to the States, because Cody’s had his baby girl, aww. Hers is on the left–I’m not one to stick to baby wrapping paper convention, as you can see. Big brother also needed a present, I decided. Cody also needed a copy of The Twits in Scots. Hilarity!

I’ve discovered the merits of super glue as a lazy-ass alternative to proper measuring and sewing. This is a pencil box I made for Nyssa by glueing fabric onto a microwave popcorn box. Hehe.

Nyssa’s room was basically a box room for the first few months we’ve been in the house. I decided to completely gut it out and decorate it in her chosen style before she came home from her trip with the grandparents. Most cooperatively, Elvis was dressed in Hawaiian garb on the September calendar page.

Another button-fabric-super glue creation. I love the fabric. Nyssa’s already using it, which makes me happy.

If you couldn’t guess the theme already, here’s a big smack of tiki tiki. The Ikea shell light looks sort of insanely lit, not sure why. The butterfly lights are quite nice, actually. I need to stop using my phone’s camera. I was fairly proud of deconstructing the patio parasol and wrestling it back into the required 1/4 of its original size. The floor to ceiling curtains and very, er, bold.

More of that nifty fabric. Bonus hula bear.

This is by her door, so when she comes and goes she can be reminded of what a pretty girl she is. 🙂

This is quite pathetically sad. The blue and yellow smudge of feathers is from a blue tit flying at full tilt into my window this afternoon. I jumped up and saw the little guy in a pile of wings on the grass, shaking his head as though he had those cartoon stars circling above it. I ran outside to hopefully save him from a neighborhood cat-related death, but he had already flown away. Poor stoopy little thing, I can’t imagine the headache he must have.

Smitten with Robin

September 17, 2008

*A* robin, to be more precise.

I’ve been putting bulbs into the ground this week, and made a very charming little friend. This is probably same old to the British, but I was quite taken with how friendly this little guy was. I would dig out some ground, and as soon as I moved out of the way, he would come and find all the little insecty snacks I had dug up. The first time, I thought he just must not have seen me. I moved onto another bit of the garden, dug a bit, and sure enough there he was right behind me to snarf up more little bugs when I rested.

So, when I went in of course I looked him up on Wikipedia. I’m accustomed to the American robin, which is a completely different species. The article reads, “Well known to British and Irish gardeners, it is relatively unafraid of people and likes to come close when anyone is digging the soil, in order to look out for earthworms and other food freshly turned up; when the gardener stops for a break the robin might use the handle of the spade as a lookout point.” While my robin isn’t just smitten with me, it’s nice to know I haven’t lost my mind. 😉 If you ask me, this rather rotund little bird is much more charming than the robins of my American youth. Apparently he’ll hang around all year, and so being a sucker, I happily went online and bought him this:

Tom Chambers Rockin’ Robin Pitched Roof Nest Box

That’s right–I bought a house especially for one little bird in my garden. Well just look at him..


We’ve got lots of other birds in the garden as well. I can identify the (unfortunately named) blue tits, which are so pretty. There are some brown speckly birds, and some larger darkly colored birds that won’t sit still long enough for my near-sighted eyes to get a good look at. I’ve strategically placed a bird feeder just outside the living room window, so I’ll have to sit very quietly sometime with a bird identification book. For Robin I also bought a ground-feeding tray so perhaps they’ll hang about there as well.

I’ve been having what for me are almost heretical thoughts–I’m now not nearly so keen for the neighborhood cats to come visiting and potentially abusing my little birdies. That’s a new one for me.

Speaking of cats, I’ve been amusing myself this afternoon by pulling the bird sound .mp3s off this site. My cats find them very, very confusing. Poor things, it really is sort of a mean tease, particularly since I’m also encouraging birds to flutter about just outside our windows.

Voting Overseas Adventure

September 10, 2008

Because I was such a bad, bad person 4 years ago, I did not vote for ousting Bushpresident in the last election. I don’t intend to make that mistake again. My excuse ran something along the lines of my hailing from Idaho, an overwhelmingly red state (see wikipedia article with map of red and blue states) and there really not being any point in submitting anything other than a statement Green vote. I understand that’s really irresponsible of me. It’s hypocritical to rant about representative government and not participate in elections.

That said, it’s only today that I’m filling in my request for an absentee ballot. My memory doesn’t always keep up with my good intentions. Anyway, if there are any other stragglers living abroad, this is a useful website to check out: Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Now, to decide whether to vote by conscience, or by pragmatics…*sigh*

Crieff and suchlike

September 9, 2008

The kids’ grandparents were nice enough to let James and I tag along on their holidays with the kids. We weren’t able to go for more than a couple days, due to James’ work and Joseph’s prescription fiasco (still don’t have it, btw), but it was nifty to get out of town.

The place we stayed in Crieff was something else. It was the tower flat in the St. Ninian’s church conversion (see link)–that’s right; for two days I had a tower! Buahahahaha. I did plot mightily the myriad ways I could use such a lair. I need one now.


My superstar in front of the building. They had a trippy color-changing LED light thing. Was very tacky and cool.

Window and chair in our bedroom.

A feature I was NOT impressed with. Why am I gasping? Forget that this was a wetroom and all the unpleasantness that entails–this window, beautiful though it was, did not block people from outside peeking in from the bedroom. If you’ve lived with James, you’ll know why this is neurosis-inducing. If you look carefully, you’ll see not one, but two naughty faces depriving me of privacy. I’m not impressed with Joseph for succumbing to James’ teachings.

Nyn enjoying the trippy tower.

On the road to Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest ‘mountain’.

I’m not sure what I was doing, probably grinning and saying, “Whaaaaaat?” I’ve been overly fond of photographing James since the beard went (YAYAYAYAY). He doesn’t share my enthusiasm.

On the gondola. Aint he cute? I can see why he’s a bit paranoid people will think he’s a lot younger. Maybe it’s my age, but I have no sympathy. Only, as evident in the picture, an apparent inability to keep my hat on my head.

The view from the top. Have to say, this sort of scenery doesn’t do anything for me. In fact, apart from farmland and forests, not much about the Scottish scenery is that exciting to me, visually. I think I’ve sussed it out–it’s the color scheme. I don’t like yellowed greens. I really really don’t. They remind of things that are unpleasant. It occurs to me now the reason perhaps that those strange sort of colors always end up in Rowan tweed yarns. The air is also fairly oppressive–for the most part there’s a sort of haze that washes out the color, at least to my eyes. It’s like I’ve not seen anything clearly since I moved abroad. Yes I’ve had my eyes checked. Yes, I’m also probably overstating the point. It just makes me happier still with our house, as our view is over stone walls and wheat fields and trees that are dark green for the most part. The rain and haze just make them more picturesque.

I think the gondola workings are pretty interesting to look at. Thinking about it detachedly helps me forget that I’m about to willingly step onto a glorified zip wire.

Neener neener.

My lazy, surly kids. Hehe.

Jamie’s cunning new way to torment and confuse monitor the cats when we’re not at home: the USB Missile Launcher with Integrated Spyscope Webcam. He can log into it remotely from anywhere he has an internet connection. I’ll let your imaginations run wild. Poor kitties.

The kids are now in Nairn with the grandparents, hopefully having seen porpoises yesterday! I’d be jealous, except that I know how windy and cold it probably is out on the water. I’m such a wimp.

Friday I’ll be going with Kosmic (more interesting than just K, and she’ll surely know I’m talking about her, buaha) to the Learning Without Limits conference. They’ve managed to snag John Taylor Gatto as keynote speaker, which is quite something. It also means there’s been a lot of interest outside our little homeschooler network. Have I actually read Dumbing Us Down…, etc.? No, but I can appreciate reputation I suppose. It will also be funny to see the mommy worship. Should make cheeky fandom t-shirts or something. Pfft.

Other than that, not really doing much. When the weather is nice I work in the garden, and when it’s not I work on gutting Nyssa’s room. Ugh. Speaking of Nyn, I’ve taken delivery of most of the presents we’ll be giving her:

She’s still got a CD player coming as well as a few other small things, along with all the mountains of things she gets from her adoring family. Is she not utterly spoilt? The Sylvanian set is actually very, very cute. It’s from the Japanese range and is a little house with a cafe on the front. Sort of ideal for her, really. Also got her a little juice bar, a teeny sewing machine, a wee bureau..hee hee. I do wonder how much of this is my living vicariously through Nyn the childhood with all the toys I would have wanted…ah well.

Speaking also of gardening, I plucked a pretty orange flower the other day and wondered what else I might come up with for a bouquet. I was quite impressed at the variety of things I found!


September 4, 2008

I have a very hedonistic love for raspberries and variants thereof. When we moved in I did a sweep of the garden to see if I was lucky enough to have some already growing, but was disappointed. Yesterday I was wandering along the hedge inspecting some rather odd things growing out of it. There are some very exotic flowers that have managed to grow up through the hedge and poke their heads out about 8 feet off the ground. I followed ’round to the street side and was astounded to see this:

There are blackberries growing out of the top of a 10 foot hedge, the fruit dangling tauntingly just out of reach! I fully intend to squirm my way into the hedge to extract them intact. What a world..

Some other things from the last couple days of no kids around..

I always enjoy seeing this sort of thing out my front window. This is our first ever lawnmower, btw. Awwww. It’s a Bosch, but it was 60 quid, but it’s Bosch, but it was freaking 60 quid…this goes through my brain when trying to reason how long this thing is meant to last. Our lawn was totally overgrown, and when I told James to go get the huge Tub Trug to help him gather the grass, he was confident that it wouldn’t be needed. Ha, fool. Or, ha, grownup boy who never had to rake a lawn. Hehe. About three passes across the lawn and the thing needed emptied. And also dug out with a stick. 60 quid mower doesn’t like 10″ high grass.

One side is a perfectly respectable but BORING tomato and olive. The other is my newest sensation: beans on toast pizza. And don’t you dump shredded cheddar on your beans and toast? Yeshhh. James mocked me. And then wanted my pizza. Ha.

I cleaned out my candy box and consolidated it into a box about 12″X18″. Don’t be fooled by scale–those red hots, twizzlers, sour patch kids, etc. are the mammoth sizes. I am a spoilt ex-pat.

I have fantastically nice American in-laws. One night soon I’ll make fries with ranch sauce and root beer floats and watch major league baseball. Woo!

If I just keep moving..

September 1, 2008

..I’ll make it through the next month. Summer vacation is a nasty oxymoron if ever there was one. It’s lots of fun to be really busy and on the move, but it wears me out and the lack of routine or even time to get myself organized is taxing. I feel that I’m on top of things just enough to get through the next week so there’s a little itch of paranoia that something will either come up suddenly or something huge is looming that I’ve just completely forgotten about. I did get a council tax reminder yesterday, whoops. Hopefully that’s as serious as it gets.

The grass has become a bit jungly while we’ve been waiting to get a straight answer about our lawn maintenance requirements as laid out in our lease. Not hearing anything back from the landlord, and the gardeners not having been back a third time, our assumption is that it’s our problem. So, we’re ordering our first mower, aw. I think we’ll go for a Bosch electric one. Have to say, my American biases find it mighty odd to see a mower trailed by a power cord..I mean the British tend to think of our electricity-related habits as accidents waiting to happen. I have made it quite clear that I ‘don’t mow lawns’ and James seems happy to do it. Well, happier than he would have been with the one-off fee of £90 and the bi-weekly maintenance charge of £40 to keep it mown by a professional that we were quoted.

We got our cats back today, which is very very good. As much as Mitu invades my personal space, as he’s doing now, the little pill makes me hugely happy.

I have many photos of festivals and travels to post, and hopefully I’ll remember some of the better anecdotes. Hopefully, I’ll get to that before too long. In the meantime, we love you and if we seem to be ignoring you it’s certainly nothing personal. Just busy.