Thursday, October 28, 2010

Moving Again!

OK, here's the deal.  After spending two great years in California we moved back to England last January. We felt strongly that England was where we were meant to be this year.  David even turned down a job in Tennessee that would have been a solid, secure alternative.  And I really liked Chattanooga.  But, after thinking and praying hard, it just didn't feel like the right fit for him.  So we took a step in faith and came back to England, in the dead of winter, with no guarantee either of us would find work, and not sure how the move would affect Evie.  We had seen providence working in our lives over the past two years and really felt that this was the right thing to do.

I'll tell you now that that belief has sometimes been the only thing that's kept us going over the past 10 months.  I was lucky enough, after a couple of horrid temp jobs, to find long term temp work at the hospital, but neither of us have been able to find permanent work and we've had to survive on my temp pay, some articles David's written, and the kindness of friends and family.  Fortunately David got a three month fellowship at the Folger and was able to send some of it home to cover expenses here, but it was a really tough summer.

The good news is that while David was in DC this summer he was offered the position of Director of Archives and Statistics at the General Conference (of the Seventh Day Adventist church, for anyone not in the know).  Which means that come early next year we'll be moving back to the States.  And, without having to stretch the imagination much, we've seen providence again.  David was in the right place, at the right time to be able to attend interviews, meet with the right people and make all sorts of arrangements before he left. We had some long talks on the phone while he was there, and then when he got back, about whether this was the right thing for us to do, especially bearing in mind how strongly we felt we needed to be back in England.  We concluded that everything seemed to be coming together to point us in that direction.

God works in strange ways.  Funnily enough, not having a car or any money has meant that since we've been back we've rarely been able to do the things we love to do here in England: eating out, visiting National Trust sites, theatre trips, days out in London, weekends away, etc.  That, combined with the fact that, after living in Angwin, Whitley is shabbier, dirtier, noiser and generally more unpleasant than we remember it from before we left, and that we lost our wonderful neighbours and now have to listen to  the new neighbours screaming at each other and their kids all day , has prevented us from being as attached to life here as we would have been otherwise.

So, the plan at the moment, contingent on his work permit coming through, is for David to go out early in January and for me to follow in March.  They will pay for me to come over for a week to have a look around so I'll go with David in January and do some mad house-hunting.  The I'll come home and tie up the loose ends here, get our house in shape to be rented out, and arrange for the movers to come and take our stuff away.  My Dad's trying to organise things so he can come over for a couple of weeks in February to help out which would be fantastic as he is totally Mr Handyman.  David will fly back over at the end of February to help out with the last minute things, spend time with Evie on her birthday, and then we'll fly away in early March.

We sound so organised don't we? Ha!

More later on what we are hoping for the next few years.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I've got a couple of posts brewing in my head, including one about why we are moving BACK to the States early next year, but in the meantime, here's some cuteness to tide you over until later.

I've always been a little shy.

Yes my child, I've been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
And for those of you who are really missing the 70s.

Check out that awesome 'fro!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What do you mean it's the middle of October?!

It was a weird summer.  Basically I worked, I came home, I occasionally forayed into the town centre to do some shopping, I got out of Reading exactly once per month (and actually I'm not sure about September, it's a blur), I neglected my garden, I really neglected my housekeeping, and I did some knitting.  That was my summer.  It was hot, and then it was wet, it was mostly boring, it was lonely (my other half being in the States for three months) and I felt sorry for myself a lot.  Hence the lack of views from the manor.

However, since 1 October, when the husband returned, it's been all go.  I got aforementioned husband back, lost my job and packed my daughter off to college, all within three days.  I then came down with a vicious cold that laid me out for the whole of my first week off work in eight months.  I'm now working part time in the orthopaedic department at the hospital, aforementioned daughter comes over every few days for food and laundry and husband is off to Geneva for a few days.

So, that's me caught up!

Oh, and we're moving back to the States next year.  But that's a whole separate issue.

Actually it hasn't been all bad.  At the end of July I had a wonderful day out with my knit night friends at Knit Nation in London.  I'd just got a £100 bonus from my doctor in the Renal Department so I blew it all on my day out - yarn, lovely, lovely yarn.  My Wednesday nights at Outcasts in Reading have been my salvation - the nicest bunch of people on the planet, I tell you.

Here are a few pics of Knit Nation, and some of my knitting from the last few months.

The totally awesome Wollmeise stand.

The smaller but equally awesome Renaissance Dyeing who use only natural dyes, including their speciality, woad.  How cool is that?

This was our combined haul from the day.

This was my personal haul from the day.

I was especially chuffed about the green and purple skeins in the middle from Old Maiden Aunt.  The green is called "bitter bug" and the purple is "derelict daughter".  I've wanted that one since I first heard of the name of it!  I'm going to make this shawl with them.

The yarn on the far left is from Wollmeise and I made these socks for David out of it.

He has worn them but I have yet to get a picture of them on his feet.

Here are a few more of my projects from over the summer.

 Tabi socks for the girl child.

A cardigan I did for a finishing class at knit night, which just happens to fit Bear perfectly.

 A scarf for me (modeled by the ever obliging child) made of bamboo.  It's been a steep learning curve this knitting thing.  A few months ago I didn't know you could buy yarn made from bamboo, soy, corn, milk or seaweed - and now I do!
And finally, a hat for the Child (it needs a little stretching out, yes) - my first lace project.

I've also finished the back of my birthday cardigan but I won't post pictures till it's done.

And for those few of you interested in my foray into vegetable gardening, I don't have any pictures but at the end of September I harvested a big bowl full of little potatoes, five fairly motheaten red cabbages, and two enormous courgettes that had hidden away under the leaves and which I could hollow out and use as canoes.  All in all, considering how much I had neglected it in its later stages, my garden did pretty well for me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What to do with all that zucchini

I have six zucchini/courgette plants and two of them are presenting me with the cutest, tenderest squashes I've ever eaten.  Based on the number of blossoms on the other four, I'm going to be more than replete with squash this summer.  I'm trying to catch them when they are little but one sucker hid under the leaves and when I found it this morning it was rehearsing for a policeman's truncheon.  There was only one thing to do...make chocolate cake.

I've always been a little skeptical about cooking vegetables in desserts - even carrot cake is a little dodgy in my view, but I've been assured that you can't taste the zucchini in cake.  So I did a search and came up with this rather luscious sounding recipe on the aptly named Zucchini & Chocolate website.  Since allergy boy and vegan girl are away from home I thought I'd whip up a chocolate cake using real butter, eggs, cocoa and dark chocolate and see if it's enough to hide the squash.

The result - absolutely frickin' gorgeous.  Rich, moist, chocolaty and not a trace of zucchini to be found - it's just melted into the cake.  I made a powdered sugar glaze to top it with but it's kind of gilding the lily.  It doesn't need anything else.

[Sorry no pictures but Evie has my camera in DC - maybe next time]

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Habit of a Lifetime - One Month at a Time

I turned 42 last month.  I'm not ashamed to admit my age - I'm embracing the "I don't give a s**t" attitude that has been creeping up since I turned 40.  So, to celebrate the fact that 42 is supposed to be the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, I've decided to make this year meaningful.  And how, you may ask?  I will tell you.  I'm going to cultivate 12 good habits this year.  Research tells us that doing something every day for a month will establish it as a habit, so every month I'm doing one thing every day in order to make it part of my routine.

For example, I've always been rather hit and miss about flossing so, since 22 June I have flossed every single night before I go to bed.  I've put the floss right by my toothbrush instead of in the medicine cabinet so I have no excuse to forget to do it.  Hopefully by 22 July when I move on to the next habit formation I'll floss as automatically as I brush.

So here are a few of the things I'd like to make new habits in the next year, in no particular order.

  • Clean and moisturize my skin every day.  I used to be able to get away with often being lazy and going to bed with my makeup still on, but those days are long gone.  
  • Drink my 8 glasses of water a day.  That's easier to do in the summer so this may be July/August's habit.
  • Make sure that all the dishes are done and the kitchen tidy before I go to bed so I don't have to come down to a mess in the morning.  I used to be good at this but like so many things I've let it slip dreadfully.
  • Take 10-15 minutes each morning for a devotion and prayer.  I really SHOULD make it longer but 15 minutes is do-able and I can leave making it longer for another time.
  • Plan dinner further in advance than 6.00 that evening.  I am definitely the "come home and see what's in the cupboard" kind of meal planner.  I think this one may wait till Evie's off to college as that will make it easier.  It's not easy to make dinner for 3 when one is a strict vegan and another is allergic to everything.  Our choices are fairly limited but it would be nice to have more variety than rice pasta potatoes, rice pasta potatoes, rice pasta potatoes...
  • Walk to work and back EVERY day (3 1/2 miles round trip).  I usually walk either to or from every day but it's so easy to come up with a reason for spending £1.70 to catch the bus - it's too hot to walk, too wet, I'm tired or running late.  The funny thing is that the nearest bus stop to work is still about 1/2 mile away so I'm not saving that much effort or time.  By the time I've walked to the bus stop, waited for the bus, rode the bus and then walked from the bus stop I may as well have walked the whole way.  And I won't get into the whole issue of germs, weirdos and Whitley mums you get riding the bus.
I'm sure more things will come to me as the year goes on.  There are certainly plenty of areas for improvement in my life but I think this is a do-able plan.  Much more than my usual vague New Year's Resolutions - lose some weight, eat less chocolate, etc.

So, I'm off to floss :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Haha, Sock Success!

My first pair of socks!

Aren't they pretty?

Oh yes, I am proud.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

...and pretty maids all in a row

I have a garden.

Everyone "ooh" and "ahh" now (and if you knew me growing up on the farm, laugh).

Seriously, I have a garden.  I admit, I'd made grandiose plans.   I had a great time poring over seed catalogues and making up longer and longer lists of veggies I wanted to grow.  In the end however, money, time and energy dictated a somewhat more modest endeavour.

The monsters at the back are my potatoes.  I'd like to say I'm proud but to be honest all I did was put them in the ground.  The two largish courgettes on the left are what's left of the six I planted and the ones in the middle were a gift today from the lovely Ralph.  I've given them a good soaking and hopefully a couple of them will make it.  The little green dots on the right are my pepper seedlings.

The big white thing in the back is a carpet I've put down to kill the lawn so I can expand the garden later in the summer.  I'd really like to put some beets, leeks and red cabbage in.  I love pickled cabbage and beets, well pickled anything really, and I'm looking forward to making my own.

Do I seem overexcited about a small patch of mostly bare ground in my lawn?  Perhaps.  But it's a first step towards my dreams...tread softly.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Zen and the Art of Sock Knitting

Knitting is cheaper than therapy.  Heck, knitting IS therapy.  Last week I started my first real knitting project, a pair of socks from a kit I bought.  Coincidentally I had a really stressful week at work (and financially).   On Thursday I was starting to tear my hair out so I put everything down, went outside and sat on the bench in the sunshine, took out my sock and started knitting ribs.  I must have sat there for half an hour, soaking up the rays, watching my sock slowly grow, and I could feel the tension melting out of my shoulders.  And all it cost me was £9.99.

Here it is in the early stages.  It's made from a lovely German sock wool called Opal, which is variegated and self striping.  I'm just about to finish off the toe of this one and then I have the second one to knit, and I'll have my very own, hand knitted socks!  I'll put up pictures of the finished product.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Ok, quick recap of the last six months.  We left Angwin just before Christmas, spent Christmas in Australia, moved back to England in January and have spent the last few months looking for work.  It's been stressful and I haven't been posting because stress tends to kill off any creative impulses that might be lurking.  In fact I haven't really been in touch with anyone lately because I'm afraid all I'll do is moan.

However...despite the fact that we still don't have permanent jobs, it's spring in England, my itty bitty garden is looking good and I've discovered knitting, so blogging is on the to do list.

More when I've uploaded some photos of the aforementioned garden and knitting.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Things To Do Before I Die

The recent movie "The Bucket List" seems to have inspired bloggers everywhere to create their own Bucket Lists, lists of things they want to accomplish in their lifetimes.  Some are fairly shallow (spend a weekend at the Playboy Mansion, some profound (save a life), some amusing (ride a camel - I have to admit that's one of mine too).  I imagine most of us have lists of varying lengths which we have come up with in the course of our lives, whether formally written down or just in our heads.  I've had various versions which have changed as I have changed, and as I have accomplished things.  When I was very young one of my ambitions was to ride in a taxi, which I accomplished on my one and only visit to New York City as a nine-year-old.  Of course I've taken countless taxis since, but I can still remember the excitement of the firs time I ticked something off my "list".

So here, in no particular order, is my current "Bucket List":

  • Cruise down the Nile - I'm planning this for my 50th birthday
  • Become self-sufficient
  • Grow a vegetable garden
  • Learn to play the lute
  • Visit Murano Island in Venice and buy some Venetian glass
  • Meet my birthmother
  • Ride a camel/elephant
  • Visit Petra in Jordan
  • Volunteer for an archaeological dig
  • Learn to dance
  • Climb to basecamp on Mt Everest (I know my limitations)

And a few things I've ticked off:

  • Ride in a taxi
  • Live in England
  • Spend a night in a museum
  • Live in the Napa Valley again
  • Find my birthmother (although I haven't met her yet)
  • Visit Paris

I'd love to hear what's on your lists.

Monday, January 25, 2010

One for Evie

Rat Song

When you hear me singing
you get the rifle down
and the flashlight, aiming for my brain,
but you always miss

and when you set out the poison
I piss on it
to warn the others.

You think: That one’s too clever,

she’s dangerous, because
I don’t stick around to be slaughtered
and you think I’m ugly too
despite my fur and pretty teeth
and my six nipples and snake tail.
All I want is love, you stupid
humanist. See if you can.

Right, I’m a parasite, I live off your
leavings, gristle and rancid fat,
I take without asking
and make nests in your cupboards
out of your suits and underwear.
You’d do the same if you could,

if you could afford to share
my crystal hatreds.
It’s your throat I want, my mate
trapped in your throat.
Though you try to drown him
with your greasy person voice,
he is hiding / between your syllables
I can hear him singing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Home, Sweet Home?

We are finally here and starting to settle back in, and it feels really strange.  The house is smaller (and shabbier) than I remember and I'm racking up items on my to-do list (mostly small repairs and lots of painting).  There's a leak in the bathroom sink, all the sealant around the tub has turned black, the tenants left heaps of junk in the backyard, it's cold, and grey, and the pretty snow is gone.

But...I'm home.  My house. My home.  So there's lots of work to do - I expected that.  So it's small (cozy) - I can adjust to that again.  So it's a little shabbier - paint's cheap and therapeutic.  And, I've got new carpet! Installed by someone else, so I got to come home to it all done and ready.  

We are also having fun pulling boxes out of storage and rediscovering things ("why did I pack that up and not just throw it away?").  I feel like an archaeologist.  It's a small but significant joy to find a favourite tea towel or wooden spoon. 

So, back to the unpacking and excavation.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...