Friday, July 25, 2008


Isn't it interesting how you can have days on end where nothing interesting happens, and then you suddenly fall into a 24 hour block that is chock full of delightful activity? That's been the story around here, hence the lack of posts in the past 2 weeks.

Last week was sooooooooo boring. The most exciting thing I did all week was move Millie's litter box from the guest bathroom to the laundry room. Luckily, Millie adapted to the change without incident. How thrilling.

Then came the glorious anniversary of the day when Tim got his driving license. He has now been a licensed driver in the states for 3 years which means our insurance rates have finally gone down. I know this news is boring as all get out to the average individual and, honestly, few things put me into a coma faster than reading sentences with words like "insurance rates" in them. But our bill was more than $100 cheaper this month than last month! And that's really something.

So yeah. Litter box. Insurance rates. These are the exciting components of my day-to-day life. So when I'm talking to my friends back home and they say that they envy me and my quiet little life, I should remind them of the reality of the situation.
Litter box.
Insurance rates.

It isn't all dull 'round here, though. This Wednesday I checked my schedule and discovered that my dance card was rather full for the evening. First of all, Tim and I met my friend Jackie and her husband David at a British Ex-Pat meet-up at our neighborhood pub. It was really nice to sit outside, eat hot wings, and chat about the things we miss back in England. I didn't have time to get too comfortable, though, because I had to be at Dana & Benni's house at 9pm to watch Project Runway. Yes, peeps, I finally found friends with satellite televsion who are willing to invite me over to enjoy our beloved PR. And my hosts are two of the funniest ladies to be found in town. After the show, Dana and I managed to stay awake chattering away until one o'clock in the morning! And we still weren't sick of eachother, so the 3 of us got together a mere 12 hours later to go to the state farmer's market.

Why the farmer's market? Well, Dana thought it was a crime that I had lived here for 2 whole years and had never been. This obviously needed to be rectified immediately. I tell you, I was kicking myself for leaving my camera at home. The state farmer's market is FABULOUS. It's in Raleigh and it is open every single day of the year. It's a great open air market where you can buy food of all sorts, all of which is grown/raised/caught in North Carolina. There was vendor after vendor after vendor selling every type of fresh produce imaginable (and giving out free samples, too). There were fresh flowers and herbs. There was goat cheese and meat. Fresh baked bread. And then there was the seafood restaurant. I had shrimp, catfish, home fries, hush puppies, and sweet tea. Good ol' fashioned cookin'. There's another restaurant there where they sell other southern favorites like biscuits and gravy. Oh my lands, the state farmers market is a glorious thing. I am definitely taking the fam there in September.

Now it's Friday & I expect another quiet weekend. That's okay. Sometimes a lull is a good thing. It makes the fun days all that much more enjoyable.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Memories of Brighton and Hove

Lately I have been thinking about Brighton almost constantly.

That sounds like the beginning of "Rebecca", doesn't it? I can hear my mother's voice now, dramatically, wistfully ... "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again ..." [insert silly snort of laughter here]

But in all seriousness, I cannot tell you how many things I've seen and heard that have made me think of Brighton and Hove in recent weeks. I keep reading names in books and magazines that remind me of the streets there. I saw a few shows on BBC America that featured the roads we used to walk along & even the grocery store where I used to shop. Also, Tim's mother moved to a new home west of Brighton this week. It's so strange to think that it's been 5 years since our summer there. Five long, long years full of more change than I could imagine, and yet more peace than I can possibly express.

Brighton & Hove are two towns on the southern coast of England that have grown together so seamlessly that you honestly cannot tell where one begins and the other ends. The only indication of change is a small tablet encased in the sidewalk along Western Road. Brighton gets all of the attention, but Hove is where you go to get away from the hustle & bustle and really relax (and see a handful of trees).

The truth is this: I was in horrible shape when Tim moved down from Sheffield to Brighton to take a new job. I was better than I had been in recent months, but still fragile. I had been battling the deepest depths of my suicidal depression. I was still having weekly counseling sessions with my therapist over the phone. I had just started taking Prozac. But in many ways, the move to Brighton was a major turning point for me. I was more isolated than ever there. We knew no one in that town. Very few people had our phone number (and with our terrible reception, it rarely worked anyway). And since Tim was going back to work, I would be left to my own devices for hours every day. I couldn't even get on the internet because the daytime charges were so outlandish. There were many empty hours to fill. It could have turned out very very badly.

But it didn't.

Brighton-&-Hove was where the healing really came to fruition. It was where I found the courage to strike out on my own, to explore. It was where I first took an interest in cooking. It was where I finally started returning the favor by taking care of Tim instead of him nursing me. It wasn't the most likely haven of nurturing and healing, what with all of the tourists and the raucous festivals, but it gave me just what I needed at a very tenuous time. For that alone, I will always love Brighton and Hove.

Today I scoured Tim's old harddrive and found these photos from our time living in Hove, just a few blocks away from Brighton's border. We have few photographs from those months, so I'm especially grateful to Tim for these.

This is the sea & the western sky in the evening. See those little things that look like birds hovering above the water? They're actually the kites from kitesurfers further down along Hove's seafront. This is also a good shot of the "shingle", which is what they call the millions of billions of pebbles that make up the beach. The great thing about this type of beach is that you don't get covered in irritating sand. The bad part is that it hurts like hell to walk on. Bring sturdy shoes. Really.

And here's a view of the promenade stretching to the east. See those colorful little storage huts? If you have $20-25 thousand dollars to spare, you can buy one.

Here's Tim sitting on the same groyne featured in the photo of me at the top of this post. Groynes are structures that jut out into the sea & are built in an effort to slow down erosion. This one, located roughly at Medina Terrace, is one of the largest groynes in Hove (most are too thin to walk on & there are numerous warning signs telling you to "Keep off the groynes!"). Check out a satellite view of this area & you'll see tons of groynes sticking out into the sea. Did I mention that I like saying "groyne"? Grooooooyyyyyyne!!!

Here I am, standing at the place where Adelaide Crescent meets the seafront. I don't know if it's obvious in this picture, but those beautiful Regency buildings curve out and make a "C" shape. That's the crescent in Adelaide Crescent. Immediately north of it is more greenspace called Palmeira Square. In these adjoining bits of greenspace, you will find trees! Yes, honest to god TREES! I was astounded at how hard it was to find trees in those towns. Is it any wonder that we ended up moving into a flat immediately east of Adelaide Crescent & Palmeira Square?

The white building on the left marks the eastern branch of Adelaide Crescent. Running between it and the creamy yellow building of Brunswick Terrace on the right is Holland Road. Just go up that road a few hundred yards and you'll find our place between the chocolate shop and the English language school. If you cross Western Road, you've gone too far. See? Easy peasy. You should stroll past it next time you're in the area.

Here's a postcard from the 1800's featuring the very same buildings. It's amazing that so much in life can change, but this place has barely been altered in 150 years. Change can be a good thing - my time in Brighton and Hove taught me that - but it's comforting to see that some things stay the same.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cliche of the Decade

This here is just a little somethin' somethin' for George & Liz and all the fans of reality television out there.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Good Riddance Day

So another July arrived which means that I got to spend another Independence Day with Tim ... or "Good Riddance Day" as he likes to call it. Again we did not go out to see fireworks, but there were none to be seen because it rained BUCKETS here on July 4th. And the 5th. And the 6th. And we're expecting more rain every day this week. We've lost power numerous times. The good news, though, is that we were entering severe drought conditions again, so I'm hopinghopinghoping that all of this rain means that we're out of danger. I don't want to go back to the days when I felt guilty for making pasta for dinner. Salvaging pasta water in order to water your plants is not fun, peeps. Believe me.

But enough of that. The truth is that a terrible thing happened on July 4th. There was a death in the family. Specifically, the death of my laptop. My constant companion is no more. His name was Hamilton. Did I ever tell you that? Anyway. Hamilton has passed on. Tim did all he could to save my laptop. He worked for hours and hours, to no avail. I suppose Hamilton declared his own independence and shuffled off to Computer Heaven, free from viruses and driver errors forever and ever.


But this may be a good thing. This is my 4th day without Hamilton and I am now more and more aware of how dependent I was upon ol' Hammy. His heavy weight has pinned me to the couch for far more hours than I care to admit. His passing has allowed me a certain degree of freedom.

All that being said, when I think of my lost laptop, the first words to spring to mind certainly are not "Good Riddance". It was a good thing to have (when used in moderation). So frankly, even though the risk of addiction is still there, I need a new laptop. If Tim and I have to share his computer for much longer, we will be reduced to crazed animals, growling and gnashish our teeth at one another. We wouldn't want that. So. Let the research begin! And if you have any suggestions, PLEASE pass them along.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Today is my parent's 41st wedding anniversary. 41 years! This afternoon Mom called me just to tell me what Dad had gotten for her for the big day: a Wii. I'm amazed that he found one. It reminds me of Christmas 1983 when he managed to get me a Cabbage Patch Kid for Christmas. I gotta ask him how he pulled this off. Anyway, the real point is that Mom is thrilled to bits & can't wait to break it out of the box. So tonight after going out for steaks, my parents will return home to play a bit of golf or maybe do a little fishing. Good times.

All of this reminded me that it has now been a whole year since we were in Florida for the big honkin' family reunion. So lets do a little time traveling, shall we, and take a look at my parents as they renewed their vows in front of friends and family last year.

Aaaaaaaw .... ain't they cute?!? It's hard to imagine being married to the same person for that long, but I am certainly glad they stuck it out. Thanks, Mom & Dad!!!